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Translated from the German by 







Lo giorno se n'andava e t aergs&rurfO' 
toglieva gli animat che sono in terrTfr 
dalle fatiche loro, ed io sol uno 
ml apparecchiava a sostener la guerra 
si del cammino e si della pietate , 
che ritrarra la mente que non erra. 

0 Muse , o alto ingegno , or mlaiutate , 
o mente che scrivesti rib ctiio vidi, 
qui si parra la tua nobilitate. 

Dante : Inferno, Canto II 




Originally published in German by Bermann-Fischer Vena* 
A. B , Stockholm Copyright 1947 by Thomas Mann 

Copyright by Martin Seeker & f Far burg Limited 
y John Sheets Bloomsbury , London , IF.C 1 

First published m England 1949 



“Les traductions sont comme les femmes- lorsqu’elles sont belles, 
elles ne sont pas fideles, et lorsqu’elles sont fideles, elles ne sont pas 
belles.” From a more familiar source we are instructed that “to 
have honesty coupled to beauty is to have honey a sauce to sugar.” 
And on the highest authority of all we know that the price of a 
virtuous woman, with no mention of other charm, is above rubies. 
All things considered, what remains to hope is only that the Eng- 
lish version of Doctor Fanstus here presented may at least not con- 
jure up the picture of a femme ni belle ni fidele. 

It is to be feared. The author himself has feared it. I venture to 
quote on this point, lifting it from its context in the Epilogue, 
some words of the narrator, who here surely speaks for the author 
himself: “In actual fact I have sometimes pondered ways and 
means of sending these pages to America, in order that they 
might first be laid before the public in an English translation. . . . 
True, there comes the thought of the essentially foreign impres- 
sion my book must make in that cultural climate; and coupled 
with it the dismaying prospect that its translation into English 
must turn out, at least in some all too radically German parts, to 
be an impossibility.” 

Grievous difficulties do indeed confront anyone essaying the 
role of copyist to this vast canvas, this cathedral of a book, this 
woven tapestry of symbolism. Translations deal with words; and in 
two fields at least the situation is unsatisfactory (I do not include 
in the list the extended musical discussion and critique, since 
music, and talk about it, uses an exact and international language). 
But dialect cannot be translated, it can only be got round by a sort 
of trickery which is usually unconvincing. Again, there are chap 
ters resorting to an archaic style and spelling. The English-speak- 
ing world boasts no Luther in the history or its language; and the 
vocabulary of Wycliffe, Tindale, Thomas More can scarcely 
evoke for us the emotions of the literate German in so far as these 
are summoned up by the very words themselves which Luther 
used. On the other hand this archaic style is employed only in a 


translator's note 

few chapters, as a device to suggest an element that is indicated 
by other means as well. And the final difficulty is hardly a lin- 
guistic one, but rather a matter of the “cultural climate” of which 
the author speaks: that knotted and combined association, symbol- 
ism, biography, and autobiography which might make even Ger- 
man readers be glad of a key to unlock its uttermost treasure. 

So, after all, these difficulties are seen to be a matter of degree. 
Against them, far outweighing them, is the fact that this monstrum 
aller Romane is addressed not only to Germans, not only to Euro- 
peans, but equally to ourselves. All that our world has lived 
through in this past quarter-century has forced us to enter this cli- 
mate and to recognize that these are our proper stresses. Readers 
of Faustus will and must be involved, with shudders, in all three 
strands of the book: the German scene from within and its 
broader, its universal origins; the depiction of an art not German 
alone but vital to our whole civilization; music as one instance of 
the arts and the state in which the arts find themselves today; and, 
finally, the invocation of the daemonic. It is necessary for us to 
read Faustus, even in a version which cannot lay claim, to being 
beautiful, though in every intent it is deeply faithful. 

The translator wishes to express warm and heartfelt thanks to 
the scholars who have been so helpful in certain chapters: espe- 
cially to Dr. Mosco Camer, conductor and musicologist, adviser 
to the Musical Staff of the B.B.C.; and Mr. Graham Orton, of the 
University of Durham, England, who has been indefatigably re- 
sourceful and suggestive in the mediaeval portions. Other scholars 
in various fields, notably Professor R. D. Welch, head of the 
Music Department of Princeton University, and Mrs. Welch, 
have helped the translator with comments and suggestions in ways 
too numerous to specify in detail. That they have done so is a 
tribute to the author of Faustus. 



I wish to state quite definitely that it is by no means out of any 
wish to bring my own personality into the foreground that I pref- 
ace with a few words about myself and my own affairs this re- 
port on the life of the departed Adrian Leverkuhn. What I here 
set down is the first and assuredly very premature biography of 
that beloved fellow-creature and musician of genius, so afflicted 
by fate, lifted up so high, only to be so frightfully cast down. I 
intrude myself, of course, only in order that the reader — I might 
better say the future reader, for at this moment there exists not 
the smallest prospect that my manuscript will ever see the light 
unless, by some miracle, it were to leave our beleaguered Euro- 
pean fortress and bring to those without some breath of the se- 
crets of our prison-house — to resume: only because I consider 
that future readers will wish to know who and what the author is 
do I preface these disclosures with a few notes about myself. In- 
deed, my mind misgives me that I shall only be awakening the 
reader’s doubt whether he is in the right hands: whether, I mean, 
my whole existence does not disqualify me for a task dictated by 
my heart rather than by any true competence for the work. 

I read over the above lines and cannot help remarking in myself 
a certain discomfort, a physical oppression only too indicative of 
the state of mind in which I sit down today in my little study, 
mine these many years, at Freising on the Isar, on the 27th of May 
1943, three years after Leverkiihn’s death (three years, that is, 
after he passed from deep night into the deepest night of all), to 
make a beginning at describing the life of my unhappy friend 
now resting — oh, may it be so! — now resting in God. My words, 
I say, betray a state of mind in anguished conflict between a pal- 
pitating impulse to communicate and a profound distrust of my 
own adequacy. I am by nature wholly moderate, of a temper, I 
may say, both healthy and humane, addressed to reason and har- 
mony; a scholar and conjuratus of the “Latin host,” not lacking 
all contact with the arts (I play the viola d’amore) but a son of 
the Muses in that academic sense which by preference regards it- 



self as descended from the German humanists of the time of the 

Heir of a Reuchhn, a Crotus of Dornheim, of Mutianus and 
Eoban of Hesse, the daemonic, little as I presume to deny its in- 
fluence upon human life, I have at all times found utterly foreign 
to my nature. Instinctively I have rejected it from my picture of 
the cosmos and never felt the slightest inclination rashly to open 
the door to the powers of darkness: arrogantly to challenge, or if 
they of themselves ventured from their side, even to hold out my 
little finger to them. To this attitude I have made my sacrifices, 
not only ideally but also to my practical disadvantage: I unhesi- 
tatingly resigned my beloved teaching profession, and that before 
the time when it became evident that it could not be reconciled 
with the spirit and claims of our historical development. In this 
respect I am content with myself. But my self-satisfaction or, if 
you prefer, my ethical narrow-mindedness can only strengthen 
my doubt whether I may feel myself truly called to my present 

Indeed, I had scarcely set my pen in motion when there escaped 
it a word which privately gave me a certain embarrassment. I 
mean the word “genius”: I spoke of the musical genius of my de- 
parted friend. Now this word “genius,” although extreme in de- 
gree, certainly in kind has a noble, harmonious, and humane ring. 
The likes of me, however far from claiming for my own person 
a place in this lofty realm, or ever pretending to have been blest 
with the divinis influxibus ex alto, can see no reasonable ground 
for shrinking, no reason for not dealing with it in clear-eyed con- 
fidence. So it seems. And yet it cannot be denied (and has never 
been) that the demonic and irrational have a disquieting share in 
this radiant sphere. We shudder as we realize that a connection 
subsists between it and the nether world, and that the reassuring 
epitheta which I sought to apply: “sane, noble, harmonious, hu- 
mane,” do not for that reason quite fit, even when — I force my- 
self, however painfully, to make this distinction — even when they 
are applied to a pure and genuine, God-given, or shall I say God- 
inflicted genius, and not to an acquired kind, the sinful and mor- 
bid corruption of natural gifts, the issue of a horrible bargain. . . . 

Here I break off, chagnned by a sense of my artistic shortcom- 
ings and lack of self-control. Adrian himself could hardly — let 
us say in a symphony — have let such a theme appear so prema- 
turely. At the most he would have allowed it to suggest itself 
afar off, in some subtly disguised, almost imperceptible way. Yet 
to the reader the words which escaped me may seem but a dark, 



distrustable suggestion, and to me alone like a rushing in where 
angels fear to tread. For a man like me it is very hard, it affects 
him almost like wanton folly, to assume the attitude of a crea- 
tive artist to a subject which is dear to him as life and burns him 
to express; I know not how to treat it with the artist’s easy mas- 
tery. Hence my too hasty entry into the distinction between 
pure and impure genius, a distinction the existence of which I 
recognize, only to ask myself at once whether it has a right to 
exist at all. Experience has forced me to ponder this problem so 
anxiously, so urgently, that at times, frightful to say, it has seemed 
to me that I should be driven beyond my proper and becoming 
level of thought, and myself experience an “impure” heightening 
of my natural gifts. 

Again I break off, in the realization that I came to speak of gen- 
ius, and the fact that it is in any case demonically influenced, only 
to air my doubt whether I possess the necessary affinity for my 
task. Against my conscientious scruples may the truth avail, which 
I always have to bring into the field against them, that it was 
vouchsafed me to spend many years of my life in close familiarity 
with a man of genius, the hero of these pages, to have known him 
since childhood, to have witnessed his growth and his destiny 
and shared in the modest role of adjuvant to his creative activity. 
The libretto from Shakespeare’s comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost , 
Leverkiihn’s exuberant youthful composition, was my work; I 
also had something to do with the preparation of the texts for the 
grotesque opera suite Gesta Romanorum and the oratorio The 
Revelation of St. John the Divine . And perhaps there was this, 
that, and the other besides. But also I am in possession of papers, 
priceless sketches, which in days when he was still in health, or 
if that is saying too much, then in comparatively and legally 
sound ones, the deceased made over to me, to me and to no other; 
on these I mean to base my account, yes, I intend to select and 
include some of them direct. But first and last — and this justifica- 
tion was always the most valid, if not before men, then before 
God — I loved him, with tenderness and terror, with compassion 
and devoted admiration, and but little questioned whether he in 
the least returned my feeling. 

That he never did — ah, no! In the note assigning his sketches 
and journals there is expressed a friendly, objective, I might al- 
most say a gracious confidence, certainly honourable to me, a be- 
lief in my conscientiousness, loyally, and scrupulous care. But 
love? Whom had this man loved? Once a woman, perhaps. A 
child, at the last, it may be, A charming trifler and winner of 



hearts, whom then, probably just because he inclined to him, he 
sent away — to his death. To whom had he opened his heart, 
whomever had he admitted into his life? With Adrian that did 
not happen. Human devotion he accepted, I would swear often 
unconsciously. His indifference was so great that he was hardly 
ever aware what went on about him, what company he was m. 
The fact that he very seldom addressed by name the person he 
spoke with makes me conjecture that he did not know the name, 
though the man had every reason to suppose he did. I might com- 
pare his absentness to an abyss, into which one’s feeling towards 
him dropped soundless and without a trace. All about him was 
coldness — and how do I feel, using this word, which he himself, 
in an uncanny connection, once also set down? Life and experi- 
ence can give to single syllables an accent utterly divorcing them 
from their common meaning and lending them an aura of horror, 
which nobody understands who has not learned them in that 
awful context. 


My name is Serenus Zeitblom, Ph.D. I deplore the extraordinary 
delay in introducing myself, but the literary nature of my mate- 
rial has prevented me from coming to the point until now. My 
age is sixty, for I was bom a.d. 1883, the eldest of four brothers 
and sisters, at Kaisersaschem on the Saale, in the district of Merse- 
burg. In the same town it was that Leverkuhn too spent his 
school-days; thus I can postpone a more detailed description until 
I come to them. Since altogether my personal life was very much 
interwoven with that of the Meister, it will be well to speak of 
them both together, to avoid the error of getting ahead of my 
story — which, when the heart is full, tends to be the case. 

Only so much must be set down for the nonce, that it was in 
the modest rank of a semi-professional middle class that I came 
into the world. My father, Wohlgemut Zeitblom, was an apothe- 
cary, though the first in the town, for the other pharmacy in 
Kaisersaschem never enjoyed the same public confidence as the 
Zeitblom shop of the “Blessed Messengers” and had at all times a 
hard struggle against it. Our family belonged to the small Catho- 
lic community of the town, the majority of its population of 
course being of the Lutheran confession. In particular my mother 
was a pious daughter of the Church, punctually fulfilling her reli- 
gious duties, whereas my father, probably from lack of time, was 
laxer in them, without in the least denying his solidarity, which 
indeed had also its political bearing, with the community of his 
faith. It was remarkable that besides our priest, EccL Councillor 
Zwiiling, the rabbi of the place, Dr. Carlebach by name, used also 
to visit us in our home above the shop and laboratory, and that, 
in Protestant houses, would not have been easy. The man of the 
Roman Church made the better appearance. But I have retained 
the impression, based principally, I suppose, upon things my fa- 
ther said, that the little long-bearded, cap-wearing Talmudist far 
surpassed his colleague of another faith in learning and religious 
penetration. It may be the, result of this youthful experience, but 
also because of the keen-scented receptivity of Jewish circles for 



Leverkiihn’s work; but I have never, precisely in the Jewish prob- 
lem and the way it has been dealt with, been able to agree fully 
with our Fuhrer and his paladins; and this fact was not without 
influence on "my resignation from the teaching staff here. Cer- 
tainly specimens of the race have also crossed my path — I need 
only think of the private scholar Breisacher in Munich, on whose 
dismayingly unsympathetic character I propose m the proper 
place to cast some light. 

As for my Catholic origin, it did of course mould and influence 
my inner man. Yet that lifelong impress never resulted in any 
conflict with my humanistic attitude m general, my love of the 
“liberal arts” as one used to call them. Between these two ele- 
ments of my personality there reigned an unbroken harmony, 
such as is easily preserved if like me one has grown up within the 
frame of “old-world” surroundings whose memories and monu- 
ments ’reach back into pre-schismatic times, back into a world of 
unity in Christ. True, Kaisersaschem lies in the midst of the na- 
tive home of the Reformation, in the heart of Lutherland. It is the 
region of cities with the names of Eisleben, Wittenberg, Quedlin- 
burg, likewise Grimma, Wolfenbuttel and Eisenach — all, again, 
rich with meaning for the inner life of the Lutheran Leverkiihn 
and linked with the direction his studies originally took, the theo- 
logical one. But I like to compare the Reformation to a bridge, 
which leads not only from scholastic times to our world of free 
thought, but also and equally back into the Middle Ages, or per- 
haps even further, as a Christian-Catholic tradition of a serene 
love of culture, untouched by churchly schism. For my part I 
feel very truly at home in that golden sphere where one called 
the Holy Virgin Jovis alma parens. 

But to continue with the most indispensable facts in my vita: 
my parents allowed me to attend our gymnasium, the same school 
where, two forms below me, Adrian was taught. Founded in the 
second half of the fifteenth century, it had until very recently 
borne the name of “School of the Brethren of the Common Life,” 
finally changed out of embarrassment at the too historical and for 
the modern ear slightly comic sound of this name. They now 
balled themselves after the neighbouring Church of St. Boniface. 
When I left school, at the beginning of the present century, I 
turned without hesitation to the study of the classic tongues, in 
which the schoolboy had already shown a certain proficiency. I 
applied myself to them at the universities of Giessen, Jena, Leip- 
zig and from 1904 to 1906 at Halle, at the same time— and that 
not by chance —as Leverkiihn also studied there. 



Here, as so often, I cannot help dwelling on the inward, the 
almost mysterious connection of the old philological interest with 
a lively and loving sense of the beauty and dignity of reason in 
the human being. The bond is expressed in the fact that we give 
to the study of the ancient tongues the name of the humamora; 
the mental co-ordination of language and the passion for the hu- 
manities is crowned by the idea of education, and thus the elec- 
tion of a profession as the shaper of youth follows almost of itself 
out of having chosen philology as a study. The man of the sci- 
ences and practical affairs can of course be a teacher too; but 
never m the same sense or to the same extent as his fellow of the 
bonce litevce . And that other, perhaps more intense, but strangely 
inarticulate language, that of tones — if one may so designate 
music — does not seem to me to be included in the pedagogic- 
humanistic sphere, although I well know that in Greek education 
and altogether in the public life of the polls it played an ancillary 
role. Rather, it seems to me, in all its supposedly logical and moral 
austerity, to belong to a world of the spirit for whose absolute 
reliability in the things of reason and human dignity I would not 
just care to put my hand in the fire. That I am even so heartily 
affected to it is one of those contradictions which, for better or 
worse, are inseparable from human nature. 

This is a marginal note. And yet not so marginal; since it is 
very pertinent to my theme, indeed only too much so, to inquire 
whether a clear and certain line can be drawn between the noble 
pedagogic world of the mind and that world of the spirit which 
one approaches only at one’s peril. What sphere of human en- 
deavour, even the most unalloyed, the most dignified and benevo- 
lent, would be entirely inaccessible to the influence of the powers 
of the underworld, yes, one must add, quite independent of the 
need of fruitful contact with them? This thought, not unbecom- 
ing even in a man whose personal nature lies remote from every- 
thing demonic, has remained to me from certain moments of that 
year and a half spent by me in visiting Italy and Greece, my good 
parents having made the journey possible after I had passed my 
state examinations. When from the Acropolis I looked down 
upon the Sacred Way on which the initiates marched, adorned 
with the saffron band, with the name of lacchus on their lips; 
again, when I stood at the place of initiation itself, in the dis- 
trict of Eubulus at the edge of the Plutonian cleft overhung by 
rocks, I experienced by divination the rich feeling of life which 
expresses itself in the initiate veneration of Olympic Greece for 
the deities of the depths; often, later on, I explained to my pupils 



that culture is in very truth the pious and regulating, I might say 
propitiatory entrance of the dark and uncanny into the service of 
the gods. 

Returned from this journey, the twenty-five-year-old man 
found a position in the high school of his native town, where he 
had received his own education. There, for some years, I as- 
sumed by modest stages the teaching in Latin, Greek, and also 
history, until, that is, the twelfth year of the present century, at 
which time I entered the service of the Bavarian Department of 
Education and moved to Freising. I took up my abode there as 
professor in the gymnasium and also as docent in the theological 
seminary, in the two fields, and for more than two decades en- 
joyed a satisfying activity. 

Quite early, soon after my appointment at Kaisersaschern, I 
married: need for regularity and desire for a proper establish- 
ment in life led me to the step. Helene, bom Oelhafen, my ex- 
cellent wife, who still accompanies my declining years, was the 
daughter of an older colleague at Zwickau in Saxony. At the risk 
of making the reader smile I will confess that the Christian name 
of the budding girl, Helene, those beloved syllables, played not 
the least considerable role in my choice. Such a name means a 
consecration, to its pure enchantment one cannot fail to respond, 
even though the outward appearance of the bearer correspond to 
its lofty claims only to a modest middle-class extent and even that 
but for a time, since the charms of youth are fleeting. And our 
daughter, who long since married a good man, manager at the 
Regensburg branch of the Bavarian Securities and Exchange Bank, 
we also called Helene. Besides her my dear wife presented me, 
with two sons, so that I have enjoyed the due to humanity of the 
joys and sorrows of paternity, if within moderate limits. None of 
my children ever possessed a childhood loveliness even approach- 
ing that of little Nepomuk Schneidewein, Adrian’s nephew and 
later idol — I myself would be the last to say so. Today my two 
sons serve their Fiihrer, the one in civil life, the other with the 
armed forces; as my position of aloofness vis-a-vis the authorities 
of the Fatherland has made me somewhat isolated, the relations of 
these two young men with the quiet paternal home must be called 
anything but intimate. 


The Leverkiihns came of a stock of superior hand-workers and 
small farmers, which flourished partly in the Schmalkalden region 
and partly in the province of Saxony, along the Saale. Adrian’s 
own family had been settled for several generations at Buchel, a 
farm belonging to the village community of Oberweiler, near 
Weissenfels, whence one was fetched by wagon after a three- 
quarters-hour journey by train from Kaisersaschem. Buchel was 
a property of a size corresponding to the ownership of a team and 
cattle; it was a good fifty acres of meadow and ploughed land, 
with communal rights to the adjoining mixed woodland and a 
very comfortable wood arid frame dwelling-house on a stone 
foundation. With the lofts and stalls it formed an open square in 
the centre of which stood a never-to-be-forgotten ancient linden 
tree of a mighty growth. It had a circular green bench round it 
and in June it was covered with gloriously fragrant blossoms. 
The beautiful tree may have been a little in the way of the traffic 
in the courtyard: I have heard that each heir in turn in his young 
years, on practical grounds, always maintained against his father’s 
veto that it ought to be cut down; only one day, having suc- 
ceeded to the property, to protect it in the same way from his 
own son. 

Very often must the linden tree have shaded the infant slum- 
bers and childhood play of little Adrian, who was bom, in the 
blossom-time of 1885, in the upper storey of the Buchel house, 
the second son of the Leverkuhn pair, Jonathan and Elsbeth. His 
brother, George, now long since the master of Buchel, was five 
years his senior. A sister, Ursel, followed after an equal interval. 
My parents belonged to the circle of friends and acquaintances of 
the Leverkiihns in Kaisersaschem and the two families had long 
been on particularly cordial terms. Thus we spent many a Sun- 
day afternoon in the good time of year at the farm, where rive 
town-dwellers gratefully partook of the good cheer of the coun- 
tryside with which Frau Leverkuhn regaled them: the grainy 
dark bread with fresh butter, the golden honey in the comb, the 



delicious strawberries in cream, the curds m blue bow Is sprinkled 
with black bread-crumbs and sugar. In Adrian’s early childhood 
— he was called Adn then — his grandparents sat with us still, 
though now retired, the business being entirely in the hands of 
the younger generation. The old man, while most respectfully 
listened to, took part only at the evening meal and argued with 
his toothless mouth. Of these earlier owners, who died at about 
this time, I have little memory. So much the more clearly stands 
before my eyes the picture of their children Jonathan and Elsbeth 
Leverkuhn, although it too has seen its changes and in the course 
of mv boyhood, my schoolboy, and my student years glided 
over, "with that imperceptible effectiveness time knows so well, 
from the youthful phase into one marked by the passiveness of 

Jonathan Leverkuhn was a man of the best German type, such 
as one seldom sees now in our towns and cities, certainly not 
among those who today, often with blatant exaggeration, repre- 
sent our German manhood. He had a cast of features stamped as 
it were in an earlier age, stored up in the country and come down 
from the time before the Thirty Years’ War. That idea came into 
my head when as a growing lad I looked at him with eyes already 
half-way trained for seeing. Unkempt ash-blond hair fell on a 
domed brow strongly marked in two distinct parts, with promi- 
nent veins on the temples; hung unfashionably long and thick in 
his neck and round the small, well-shaped ears, to mingle with the 
curling blond beard that covered the chin and the hollow under 
the lip. This lower lip came out rather strong and full under the 
short, slightly drooping moustache, with a smile which made a 
most charming harmony with the blue eyes, a little severe, but 
a little smiling too, their gaze half absent and half shy. The bridge 
of the nose was thin and finely hooked, the unbearded part of the 
cheeks under the cheekbones shadowed and even rather gaunt. 
He wore his sinewy throat uncovered and had no love for “city- 
clothes,” which did not suit his looks, particularly not his hands, 
those powerful, browned and parched, rather freckled hands, one 
of which grasped the crook of his stick when he went into the vil- 
lage to town meeting. 

A physician might have ascribed the veiled effort in his gaze, a 
certain sensitiveness at the temples, to migraine; and Jonathan did 
in fact suffer from headaches, though moderately, not oftener 
than once a month and almost without hindrance to his work. He 
loved his pipe, a half-length porcelain one with a lid, whose odour 
of pipe tobacco, peculiar to itself and far pleasanter than the stale 



smoke of cigar or cigarette, pervaded the atmosphere of the lower 
rooms. He loved too as a night-cap a good mug of Merseburg 
beer. On winter evenings, when the land of his fathers lay under 
snow, you saw him reading, preferably in a bulky family Bible, 
bound in pressed pigskin and closed with leather clasps; it had 
been printed about 1700 under the ducal licence in Brunswick, 
and included not only the “Geist-reichen” prefaces and marginal 
comments of Dr. Martin Luther but also all sorts of summaries, 
locos parallelos , and historical-moralizing verses by a Herr David 
von Schwemitz explaining each chapter. There was a legend 
about this volume; or rather the definite information about it was 
handed down, that it had been the property of that Princess of 
Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel who married the son of Peter the Great. 
Afterwards they gave out that she had died, and her funeral took 
place, but actually she escaped to Martinique and there married a 
Frenchman. How often did Adrian, with his keen sense of the 
ridiculous, laugh with me later over this tale, which his father, 
lifting his head from his book, would relate with his mild, pene- 
trating look and then, obviously unperturbed by the slightly scan- 
dalous provenance of the sacred text, return to the versified com- 
mentaries of Herr von Schweinitz or the “Wisdom of Solomon 
to the Tyrants.” 

But alongside the religious cast his reading took another direc- 
tion, which in certain times would have been characterized as 
wanting to “speculate the elements.” In other words, to a limited 
extent and with limited means, he carried on studies in natural sci- 
ence, biology, even perhaps in chemistry and physics, helped out 
occasionally by my father with material from our laboratory. But 
I have chosen that antiquated and not irreproachable description 
for such practices because a tinge of mysticism was perceptible 
in them, which would once have been suspect as a leaning to the 
black arts. But I will add, too, that I have never misunderstood 
this distrust felt by a religious and spiritual-minded epoch for the 
rising passion to investigate the mysteries of nature. Godly fear 
must see in it a libertine traffic with forbidden things, despite the 
obvious contradiction involved in regarding the Creation, God, 
Nature and Life as a morally depraved field. Nature itself is too 
full of obscure phenomena not altogether remote from magic — 
equivocal moods, weird, half-hidden associations pointing to the 
unknown — for a disciplined piety not to see therein a rash over- 
stepping of ordained limits. 

When Adrian’s father opened certain books with illustrations 
in colour of exotic lepidoptera and sea creatures, we looked at 



them, his sons and I, Frau Leverkuhn as well, over the back of his 
leather-cushioned chair with the ear-rests; and he pointed with his 
forefinger at the freaks and fascinations there displayed in all the 
colours of the spectrum, from dark to light, mustered and mod- 
elled with the highest technical skill: genus Papilio and. genus 
Morpho, tropical insects which enjoyed a brief existence in fan- 
tastically exaggerated beauty, some of them regarded by the na- 
tives as evil spirits bringing malaria. The most splendid colour 
they displayed, a dreamlike lovely azure, was, so Jonathan in- 
structed us, no true colour at all, but produced by fine little fur- 
rows and other surface configurations of the scales on their wings, 
a miniature construction resulting from artificial refraction of the 
light rays and exclusion of most of them so that only the purest 
blue light reached the eyes. 

“Just think,” I can still hear Frau Leverkuhn say, “so it is all a 

“Do you call the blue sky a cheat?” answered her husband look- 
ing up backwards at her. “You cannot tell me the pigment it 
comes from.” 

I seem as I write to be standing with Frau Elsbeth, George, and 
Adrian behind their father’s chair, following his finger across the 
pictured pages. Clearwings were there depicted which had no 
scales on their wings, so that they seemed delicately glassy and 
only shot through with a net of dark veins. One such butterfly, 
in transparent nudity, loving the duskiness of heavy leafage, was 
called Hettera esmeralda. Hetsera had on her wings only a dark 
spot of violet and rose; one could see nothing else of her, and 
when she flew she was like a petal blown by the wind. Then there 
was the leaf butterfly, whose wings on top are a triple chord of 
colour, while underneath with insane exactitude they resemble a 
leaf, not only in shape and veining but in the minute reproduction 
of small imperfections, imitation drops of water, little warts and 
fungus growths and more of the like. When this clever creature 
alights among the leaves and folds its wings, it disappears by adap- 
tation so entirely that the hungriest enemy cannot make it out. 

Not without success did Jonathan seek to communicate to us 
his delight in this protective imitation that went so far as to copy 
blemishes. “How has the creature done it?” he would ask. “How 
does Nature do it through the creature? For one cannot ascribe 
the trick to its own observation and calculation. Yes, yes, Nature 
knows her leaf precisely: knows not only its perfection but also 
its small usual blunders and blemishes; mischievously or benevo- 
lently she repeats its outward appearance in another sphere, on 



the under side of this her butterfly, to baffle others of her crea- 
tures. But why is it just this one that profits by the cunning? And 
if it is actually on purpose that when resting it looks just like a 
leaf, what is the advantage, looked at from the point of view of 
its hungry pursuers, the lizards, birds, and spiders, for which 
surely it is meant for food? Yet when it so wills, however keen 
their sight they cannot make it out. I am asking that in order that 
you may not ask me.” 

This butterfly, then, protected itself by becoming invisible. But 
one only needed to look further on in the book to find others 
which attained the same end by being strikingly, far-reachingly 
visible. Not only were they exceptionally large but also coloured 
and patterned with unusual gorgeousness; and Father Leverkuhn 
told us that in this apparently challenging garb they flew about in 
perfect security. You could not call them cheeky, there was some- 
thing almost pathetic about them; for they never hid, yet never 
an animal — not ape or bird or lizard — turned its head to look at 
them. Why? Because they were revolting. And because they ad- 
vertised the fact by their striking beauty and the sluggishness of 
their flight. Their secretions were so foul to taste and smell that 
if ever any creature mistakenly thought one of them would do 
him good he soon spat it out with every sign of disgust. But all 
nature knows they are inedible, so they are safe — tragically safe. 
We at least, behind Jonathan’s chair, asked ourselves whether this 
security had not something disgraceful about it, rather than be- 
ing a cause for rejoicing. And what was the consequence? That 
other kinds of butterfly tricked themselves out in the same for- 
bidding splendour and flew with the same heavy flight, untouch- 
able although perfectly edible. 

I was infected by Adrian’s mirth over this information; he 
laughed till he shook his sides, and tears squeezed out of his eyes, 
and I had to laugh too, right heartily. But Father Leverkuhn 
hushed us; he wished all these matters to be regarded with rever- 
ence, the same awe and sense of mystery with which he looked 
at the unreadable writing on the shells of certain mussels, taking 
his great square reading-glass to help him and letting us try too. 
Certainly the look of these creatures, the sea-snails and salt-water 
mussels, was equally remarkable, at least when one looked at their 
pictures under Jonathan’s guidance. All these windings and vault- 
ings* executed in splendid perfection, with a sense of form as bold 
as it was delicate, these rosy openings, these iridescent faience 
splendours — all these were the work of their own jellylike pro- 
prietors. At least on the theory that Nature makes itself, and leav- 



ing the Creator out. The conception of Him as an inspired crafts- 
man and ambitious artist of the original pottery works is so 
fantastic that the temptation lies close to hand — now here closer 
— to introduce an intermediate deity, the Demiurge. Well, as I w as 
saying, the fact that these priceless habitations were the work of 
the very mollusc which they sheltered was the most astonishing 
thing about them. 

“As you grew,” said Jonathan to us, “and you can easily prove 
it by feeling your elbows and ribs, you formed in your insides a 
solid structure, a skeleton which gives your flesh and muscles sta- 
bility, and which you carry round inside you — unless it be more 
correct to say it carries you around. Here it is just the other way: 
these creatures have put their solid structure outside, not as frame- 
work but as house, and that it is an outside and not an inside must 
be the very reason for its beauty.” 

We boys, Adrian and I, looked at each other, half-smiling, half 
taken aback at such remarks from his father as this about the 
vanity of appearances. 

Sometimes it was even malignant, this outward beauty: certain 
conical snails, charmingly asymmetric specimens bathed in a 
veined pale rose or white-spotted honey brown, had a notoriously 
poisonous sting. Altogether, according to the master of Buchel, a 
certain ill fame, a fantastic ambiguity, attached to this whole ex- 
traordinary field. A strange ambivalance of opinion had always 
betrayed itself in the very various uses to which the finest speci- 
mens were put. In the Middle Ages they had belonged to the 
standing inventory of the witches’ kitchen and alchemist’s vault: 
they were considered the proper vessels for poisons and love po- 
tions. On the other hand, and at the same time, they had served 
as shrines and reliquaries and even for the Eucharist. What a con- 
frontation was there! — poison and beauty, poison and magic, 
even magic and ritual. If we did not think of all that ourselves, 
yet Jonathan’s comments gave us a vague sense of it. 

As for the hieroglyphs which so puzzled him, these were on a 
middle-sized shell, a mussel from New Caledonia: slightly red- 
dish-brown characters on a white ground. They looked as though 
they were made with a brush, and round the rim became purely 
ornamental strokes; but on the larger part of the curved surface 
their careful complexity had the most distinct look of explana- 
tory remarks. In my recollection they showed strong resemblance 
to ancient Oriental writings, for instance the old Aramaic ductus. 
My father had actually brought archaeological works from the 
not ill-provided town library of Kaisersaschem to give his friend 



the opportunity for comparison and study. There had been, of 
course, no result, or only such confusion and absurdity as came 
to nothing. With a certain melancholy Jonathan admitted it when 
he showed us the riddling reproduction. “It has turned out to be 
impossible,” he said, “to get at the meaning of these marks. Un- 
fortunately, my dears, such is the case. They refuse themselves to 
our understanding, and will, painfully enough, continue to do so. 
But when I say refuse, that is merely the negative of reveal — and 
that Nature painted these ciphers, to which we lack the key, 
merely for ornament on the shell of her creature, nobody can 
persuade me. Ornament and meaning always run alongside each 
other; the old writings too served for both ornament and com- 
munication. Nobody can tell me that there is nothing communi- 
cated here. That it is an inaccessible communication, to plunge 
into this contradiction, is also a pleasure.” 

Did he think, if it were really a case of secret writing, that Na- 
ture must command a language born and organized out of her 
own self? For what man-invented one should she choose, to ex- 
press herself in? But even as a boy I clearly understood that Na- 
ture, outside of the human race, is fundamentally illiterate — that 
in my eyes is precisely what makes her uncanny. 

Yes, Father Leverkuhn was a dreamer and speculator, and I 
have already said that his taste for research — if one can speak of 
research instead of mere dreamy contemplation — always leaned 
in a certain direction — namely, the mystical or an intuitive half- 
mystical, into which, as it seems to me, human thinking in pur- 
suit of Nature is almost of necessity led. But the enterprise of 
experimenting on Nature, of teasing her into manifestations, 
“tempting” her, in the sense of laying bare her workings by 
experiment; that all this had quite close relations with witch- 
craft, yes, belonged in that realm and was itself a work of the 
“Tempter,” such was the conviction of earlier epochs. It was a 
decent conviction, if you were to ask me. I should like to know 
with what eyes one would have looked on the man from Witten- 
berg who, as we heard from Jonathan, a hundred and some years 
before had invented the experiment of visible music, which we 
were sometimes permitted to see. To the small amount of physi- 
cal apparatus which Adrian’s father had at his command belonged 
a round glass plate, resting only on a peg in the centre and re- 
volving freely. On this glass plate the miracle took place. It was 
strewn with fine sand, and Jonathan, by means of an old cello 
bow which he drew up and down the edge from top to bottom 
made it vibrate, and according to its motion the excited sand 



grouped and arranged itself in astonishingly precise and varied 
figures and arabesques. This visible acoustic, wherein the simple 
and the mysterious, law and miracle, so charmingly mingled, 
pleased us lads exceedingly, we often asked to see it, and not least 
to give the experimenter pleasure. 

A si milar pleasure he found in ice crystals; and on winter days 
when the little peasant windows of the farmhouse were frosted, 
he would be absorbed in their structure for half an hour, looking 
at them both with the naked eye and with his magnifying glass. 
I should like to say that all that would have been good and be- 
longing to the regular order of things if only the phenomena had 
kept to a symmetrical pattern, as they ought, strictly regular and 
mathematical. But that they did not. Impudently, deceptively, 
they imitated the vegetable kingdom: most prettily of all, fern 
fronds, grasses, the calyxes and corollas of flowers. To the utmost 
of their icy ability they dabbled in the organic; and that Jonathan 
could never get over, nor cease his more or less disapproving but 
also admiring shakes of the head. Did, he inquired, these phan- 
tasmagorias prefigure the forms of the vegetable world, or did 
they imitate them 5 Neither one nor the other, he answered him- 
self, they were parallel phenomena. Creatively dreaming Nature 
dreamed here and there the same dream: if there could be a 
thought of imitation, then surely it was reciprocal. Should one 
put down the actual children of the field as the pattern because 
they possessed organic actuality, while the snow crystals were 
mere show? But their appearance was the result of no smaller 
complexity of the action of matter than was that of the plants. 
If I understood my host aright, then what occupied him was the 
essential unity of animate and so-called inanimate nature, it was 
the thought that we sin against the latter when we draw too hard 
and fast a line between the two fields, since in reality it is. pervious 
and there is no elementary capacity which is reserved entirely to 
the living creature and which the biologist could not also study 
on an inanimate subject. 

We learned how bewilderingly the two kingdoms mimic each 
other, when Father Leverkuhn showed us the “devouring drop,” 
more than once giving it its meal before our eyes. A drop of any 
kind, paraffin, volatile oil — I no longer feel sure what it was, it 
may have been chloroform — a drop, I say, is not animal, not even 
of the most primitive type, not even an amoeba; one does not sup- 
pose that it feels appetite, seizes nourishment, keeps what suits it, 
rejects what does not. But just this was what our drop did. It' 
hung by itself in a glass of water, wherein Jonathan had sub- 


merged it, probably with a dropper. What he did was as follows: 
he took a tiny glass stick, just a glass thread, which he had coated 
with shellac, between the prongs of a little pair of pincers and 
brought it close to the drop. That was all he did; the rest the 
drop did itself. It threw up on its surface a little protuberance, 
something like a mount of conception, through which it took 
the stick into itself, lengthwise. At the same time it got longer, 
became pear-shaped in order to get its prey all in, so that it 
should not stick out beyond, and began, I give you my word for 
it, gradually growing round again, first by taking on an egg- 
shape, to eat off the shellac and distribute it in its body. This 
done, and returned to its round shape, it moved the stick, licked 
clean, crosswise to its own surface and ejected it into the water. 

I cannot say that I enjoyed seeing this, but I confess that I was 
fascinated, and Adrian probably was too, though he was always 
sorely tempted to laugh at such displays and suppressed his laugh- 
ter only out of respect for his father’s gravity. The devouring 
drop might conceivably strike one as funny. But no one, certainly 
not myself, could have laughed at certain other phenomena, “nat- 
ural,” yet incredible and uncanny, displayed by Father Lever- 
kuhn. He had succeeded in making a most singular culture; I shall 
never forget the sight. The vessel of crystallization was three- 
quarters full of slightly muddy water — that is, dilute water-glass 
— and from the sandy bottom there strove upwards a grotesque 
little landscape of variously coloured growths: a confused vege- 
tation of blue, green, and brown shoots which reminded one of 
algae, mushrooms, attached polyps, also moss, then mussels, fruit 
pods, little trees or twigs from trees, here and there of limbs. It 
was the most remarkable sight I ever saw, and remarkable not so 
much for its appearance, strange and amazing though that was, 
as on account of its profoundly melancholy nature. For when Fa- 
ther Leverkiihn asked us what we thought of it and we timidly 
answered him that they might be plants: “No,” he replied, “they 
are not, they only act that way. But do not think the less of them. 
Precisely because they do, because they try to as hard as they can, 
they are worthy of all respect.” 

It turned out that these growths were entirely unorganic in 
their origin; they existed by virtue of chemicals from the apothe- 
cary’s shop, the “Blessed Messengers.” Before pouring the water- 
glass, Jonathan had sprinkled the sand at the bottom with various 
crystals; if I mistake not potassium chromate and sulphate of cop- 
per. From this sowing, as the result of a physical process called 
“osmotic pressure,” there sprang the pathetic crop for which their 



producer at once and urgently claimed our sympathy. He showed 
us that these pathetic imitations of life were light-seeking, helio- 
tropic, as science calls it. He exposed the aquarium to the sun- 
light, shading three sides against it, and behold, toward that one 
pane through which the light fell, thither straightway slanted the 
whole equivocal kith and kin- mushrooms, phallic polyp-stalks, 
little trees, algae, half-formed limbs. Indeed, they so yearned after 
warmth and joy that they actually clung to the pane and stuck 
fast there. 

“And even so they are dead,” said Jonathan, and tears came in 
his eyes, while Adrian, as of course I saw, was shaken with sup- 
pressed laughter. 

For my part, I must leave it to the reader’s judgment whether 
that sort of thing is matter for laughter or tears. But one thing I 
will say: such weirdnesses are exclusively Nature’s own affair, and 
particularly of nature arrogantly tempted by man. In the high- 
minded realms of the humcmiora one is safe from such impish 


Since the foregoing section has swollen out of all conscience, I 
shall do well to begin a new one, for it is my purpose now to do 
honour to the image of the mistress of Buchel, Adrian’s dear 
mother. Gratitude for a happy childhood, in which the good 
things she gave us to eat played no small part, may add lustre to 
my picture of her. But truly in all my life I have never seen a 
more attractive woman than Elsbeth Leverkuhn. The reverence 
with which I speak of her simple, intellectually altogether unas- 
suming person flows from my conviction that the genius of the 
son owed very much to his mother’s vigour and bloom. 

Jonathan Leverkuhn’s fine old-German head was always a joy 
to my eyes; but they rested with no less delight on his wife’s fig- 
ure, so altogether pleasant it was, so individual and well propor- 
tioned. She was bom near Apolda, and her type was that brunette 
one which is sometimes found among us, even in regions where 
there is no definite ground to suspect Roman blood. The darkness 
of her colouring, the black hair, the black eyes with their quiet, 
friendly gaze, might have made me take her for an Italian were 
it not for a certain sturdiness in the facial structure. It was a 
rather short oval, this face, with somewhat pointed chin, a not 
very regular nose, slightly flat and a little tilted, and a tranquil 
mouth, neither voluptuous nor severe. The hair half covered the 
ears, and as I grew up it was slowly silvering; it was drawn 
tightly back, as smooth as glass, and the parting above the brow 
laid bare the whiteness of the skin beneath. Even so, not always, 
and so probably unintentionally, some loose strands hung charm- 
ingly down in front of the ears. The braid, in our childhood still 
a massive one, was twined peasant-fashion round the back of the 
head and on feast-days it might be wound with a gay embroidered 

City clothes were as little to her liking as to her husband’s: the 
ladylike did not suit her. On the other hand, the costume of the 
region, in which we knew her, became her to a marvel: the heavy 
home-made skirt and a sort of trimmed bodice with a square 



opening leaving bare the rather short, sturdy neck and the upper 
part of the breast, where hung a simple gold ornament. The ca- 
pable brown hands with the wedding ring on the right one were 
neither coarse nor fastidiously cared for; they had, I would say, 
something so humanly right and responsible about them that one 
enjoyed the sight of them, as well as the shapely feet, which 
stepped out firmly, neither too large nor too small, in the easy, 
low-heeled shoes and the green or grey woollen stockings which 
spanned the neat ankles. All this was pleasant indeed. But the 
finest thing about her was her voice, in register a warm mezzo- 
soprano, and m speaking, though with a slight Thuringian inflex- 
ion, quite extraordinarily winning. I do not say flattering, because 
the word seems to imply intention. The vocal charm was due to 
an inherently musical temperament, which, however, remained 
latent, for Elsbeth never troubled about music, never so to speak 
“professed” it. She might quite casually strum a few chords on 
the old guitar that decorated the living-room wall; she might hum 
this or that snatch of song. But she never committed herself, never 
actually sang, although I would wager that there was excellent 
raw material there. 

In any case, I have never heard anyone speak more beautifully, 
though what she said was always of the simplest and most matter- 
of-fact. And this native, instinctive taste, this harmony, was from 
the first hour Adrian’s lullaby. To me that means something, it 
helps to explain the incredible ear which is revealed in his work 
— even though the objection lies to hand that his brother George 
enjoyed the same advantage without any influence upon his later 
life. George looked more like his father too, while Adrian physi- 
cally resembled the mother — though again there is a discrepancy, 
for it was Adrian, not George, who inherited the tendency to mi- 
graine. But the general habit of my deceased friend, and even 
many particular traits: the brunette skin, the shape of eye, mouth, 
and chin, all that came from the mother’s side. The likeness was 
plain as long as he was smooth-shaven, before he grew the heavy 
beard. That was only m his latter years; it altered his looks very 
much. The pitch-black of the mother’s eyes had mingled with the 
father’s azure blue to a shadowy blue-grey-green iris with little 
metallic sprinkles and a rust-coloured ring round the pupils. To 
me it was a moral certainty that the contrast between the eyes of 
tile two parents, the blending of hers into his, was what formed 
his taste in this respect or rather made it waver. For never, all his 
life long, could he decide which, the black or the blue, he liked 


better. Yet always it was the extreme that drew him; the very 
blue, or else the pitch-black gleam between the lashes. 

Frau Elsbeth’s influence on the hands at Buchel — not very nu- 
merous save at harvest-time, and then the neighbours came in to 
help — was of the very best; if I am right, her authority among 
them was greater than her husband’s. I can still see the figures of 
some of them; for instance, that of Thomas, the ostler, who used 
to fetch us from Weissenfels and bring us back: a one-eyed, ex- 
traordinarily long and bony man, with a slight hump, on which 
he used to let little Adrian ride; it was, the Meister often told me 
later, a most practical and comfortable seat. And I recall the cow- 
girl Hanne, whose bosoms flapped as she walked and whose bare 
feet were always caked with dung. She and the boy Adrian had a 
close friendship, on grounds still to be gone into in detail. Then 
there was the dairywoman Frau Luder, a widow in a cap. Her 
face was set in an expression of exaggerated dignity, probably 
due to her renown as a mistress of the art of making liqueurs and 
caraway cheese. It was she, if not Elsbeth herself, who took us to 
the cow-stalls, where the milkmaid crouched on her stool, and 
under her fingers there ran into our glasses the lukewarm foam- 
ing milk, smelling of the good and useful animal that gave it. 

All this detail, these memories of our country world of child- 
hood in its simple setting of wood and meadow, pond and hill — 
I would not dwell upon them but that just they formed the early 
surroundings of Adrian up to his tenth year. This was his paren- 
tal home, his native heath, the scene where he and I so often came 
together. It was the time in which our du was rooted, the time 
when he too must have called me by my Christian name. I hear 
it no more, but it is unthinkable that at six or eight years he 
should not have called me Serenus or simply Seren just as I called 
him Adri. The date cannot be fixed, but it must certainly have 
been in our early school-days that he ceased to bestow it on me 
and used only my last name instead, though it would have seemed 
to me impossibly harsh to do the same. Thus it was — though I 
would not have it look as though I wanted to complain. Yet it 
seemed to me worth mention that I called him Adrian; he on the 
other hand, when he did not altogether avoid all address, called 
me Zeitblom.— -Let us not dwell on the odd circumstance, which 
became second nature to me, but drop it and return to Buchel. 

His friend, and mine too, was the yard dog, Suso. The bearer of 
this singular name was a rather mangy setter. When one brought 
her her food she used to grin across her whole face, but she was 



by no means good-natured to strangers, Mid led the unnatural 
life of a dog chained all day to its kennel and only let free to 
roam the court at night. Together Adrian and I looked into the 
filthy huddle in the pigsty and recalled the old wives’ tales we 
had heard about these muddy sucklings with the furtive white- 
eyelashed little blue eyes and the fat bodies so like m colour to 
human flesh: how these animals did sometimes actually devour 
s mall children. We forced our vocal chords to imitate the throaty 
grunt of their language and watched the rosy snouts of the litter 
at the dugs of the sow. Together we laughed at the hens behind 
the wire of the chicken-house: they accompanied their fatuous 
activities by a dignified gabbling, breaking out only now and then 
into hysterical squawks. We visited the beehives behind the 
house, but kept our distance, knowing already the throbbing pain 
caused by these busy creatures when one of them blundered 
against your nose and defended itself with its sting. 

I remember the kitchen garden and the currant bushes whose 
laden stems we drew through our lips; the meadow sorrel we nib- 
bled; certain wild-flowers from whose throats we sucked the drop 
of fine nectar; the acorns we chewed, lying on our backs in the 
wood; the purple, sun-warmed blackberries we ate from the way- 
side bushes to quench our childish thirst with their sharp juice. 
We were children — ah, it is not on my own account but on his 
that I am moved as I look back, at the thought of his fate, and 
how from that vale of innocence he was to mount up to inhos- 
pitable, yes, awful heights. It was the life of an artist; and because 
it was given to me, a simple man, to see it all so close by, all the 
feelings of my soul for human lot and fate were concentrated 
about this unique specimen of humanity. Thanks to my friendship 
with Adrian, it stands to me for the pattern of how destiny shapes 
the soul, for the classic, amazing instance of that which we call 
becoming, development, evolution — and actually it may be just 
that. For though the artist may all his life remain closer, not to 
say truer, to his childhood than the man trained for practical 
life, although one may say that he, unlike the latter, abides in the 
dreamy, purely human and playful childlike state, yet his path out 
of his simple, unaffected beginnings to the undivined later stages 
of his course is endlessly farther, wilder, more shattering to 
watch than that of the ordinary citizen. With the latter, too, the 
thought that he was once a child is not nearly so full of tears. 

I beg the reader to put down entirely to, my own account the 
feelings here expressed and not ascribe them to Leverkuhn. I am 
mi old-fashioned man who has stuck by certain romantic notions 



dear to me, one of which is the highly subjectivizing contrast I 
feel between the nature of the artist and that of the ordinary man. 
Adrian — if he had found it worth the trouble — would have 
coldly contradicted such a view. He had extremely neutral views 
about art and artists; he reacted so witheringly to the “romantic 
tripe” which the world in its folly had been pleased to utter on 
the subject that he even disliked the words “art” and “artist,” as he 
showed in his face when he heard them. It was the same with the 
word “inspiration.” It had to be avoided in his company and “im- 
agination” used, if necessary, instead. He hated the word, he 
jeered at it — and when I think of that hatred and those jeers, I can- 
not help lifting my hand from the blotter over my page, to cover 
my eyes. For his hatred and mockery were too tormented to be a 
merely objective reaction to the intellectual movements of the 
time. Though they were objective too; I recall that once, even as a 
student, he said to me that the nineteenth century must have been 
an uncommonly pleasant epoch, since it had never been harder for 
humanity to tear itself away from the opinions and habits of the 
previous period than it was for the generation now living. 

I referred above to the pond which lay only ten minutes away 
from the house, surrounded by pasture. It was called the Cow 
Trough, probably because of its oblong shape and because the 
cows came there to drink. The water, why I do not know, was 
unusually cold, so that we could only bathe in it in the afternoon 
when the sun had stood on it a long time. As for the hill, it was 
a favourite walk of half an hour: a height called, certainly from 
old days and most inappropriately, Mount Zion. In the winter it 
was good for coasting, but I was seldom there. In summer, with 
the community bench beneath the oak trees crowning its summit, 
it was an airy site with a good view, and I often enjoyed it with 
the Leverkiihn family before supper on Sunday afternoons. 

And now I feel constrained to comment as follows: the house 
and its surroundings in which Adrian later as a mature man set- 
tled down when he took up permanent quarters with the Schwei- 
gestills at Pfeiffering near Waldshut in Oberbayem — indeed, the 
whole setting — were a most extraordinary likeness and reproduc- 
tion of his childhood home; in other words, the scene of his later 
days bore a curious resemblance to that of his early on©. Not 
only did the environs of Pfeiffering (or Pfeffering, for the spell- 
ing varies) have a hill with a community bench, though it was 
not called Mount Zion, but the Rohmbuhel; not only was there a 
pond, at somewhat the same distance from the house as the Cow 
Trough, here called the Klammer pond, the water of which was 



strikingly cold. No, for even the house, the courtyard, and the 
family itself were all very like the Buchel setting. In the yard was 
a tree, also rather in the way and preserved for sentimental reasons 
— not a lime tree, but an elm. True, characteristic differences ex- 
isted between the structure of the Schweigestill house and that of 
Adrian’s parents, for the former was an old cloister, with thick 
walls, deep-vaulted casements, and rather dank passages. But the 
odour of pipe tobacco pervaded the air of the lower rooms as it 
did at Buchel; and the owner and his wife, Herr and Frau Schwei- 
gestill, were a father and a mother too; that is, they were a long- 
faced, rather laconic, quiet, and contemplative farmer and his no 
longer young wife, who had certainly put on flesh but was well- 
proportioned, lively, energetic, and capable, with hair smoothed 
tightly back and shapely hands and feet. They had a grown son and 
heir, Gereon (not George), a young man very progressive in agri- 
cultural matters, always thinking about new machinery, and a later- 
bom daughter named Clementine. The yard dog in Pfeiffering 
■ could laugh, even though he was not called Suso, but Kaschperl — 
at least originally. For the boarder had his own ideas about this 
“originally” and I was a witness of the process by which under 
his influence the name Kaschperl became slowly a memory and 
the dog himself answered better to Suso. There was no second 
son, which rather strengthened the case than otherwise, for who 
would this second son have been? 

I never spoke to Adrian about this whole singular and very 
obvious parallel. I did not do so in the beginning, and later I 
no longer wanted to. I never cared for the phenomenon. This 
choice of a place to live, reproducing the earliest one, this bury- 
ing oneself in one’s earliest, outlived childhood, or at least in the 
outer circumstances of the same — it might indicate attachment, 
but in any case it is psychologically disturbing. In Leverkuhn it 
was the more so since I never observed that his ties with rite 
parental home were particularly close or emotional, and he sev- 
ered them early without observable pain. Was that artificial 
“return” simply a whim? I cannot think so. Instead it reminds me 
of a man of my acquaintance who, though outwardly robust and 
even bearded, was so highly strung that when he was ill — and 
he inclined to illnesses — he wished to be treated only by a child- 
specialist. Moreover the doctor to whom he went was so small in 
person that a practice for grown people would obviously not 
have been suitable and he could only have become a physician for 
children. I ought to say at once that I am aware of disgressing in 
telling this anecdote about the man with the child-specialist, in 



so far as neither of them will appear in this narrative. If that is an 
error, and while without doubt it was an error to yield to the 
temptation to bring in Pfeiffenng and the Schweigestills before 
their time, I would implore the reader to attribute such irregu- 
larities to the excitement which has possessed me since I began 
this biography, and to tell the truth not only as I write. I have 
been working now for several days on these pages; but though I 
try to keep my sentences balanced and find fitting expression for 
my thoughts, the reader must not imagine that I do not feel my- 
self in a state of permanent excitement, which even expresses it- 
self in a shakiness in my handwriting, usually so firm. I even be- 
lieve, not only that those who read me will in the long run 
understand this nervous perturbation, but also that they them- 
selves will in time not be strange to it. 

I forgot to mention that there was in the Schweigestill court- 
yard, Adrian’s later home, and certainly not surprisingly, a stable- 
girl, with bosoms that shook as she ran and bare feet caked with 
dung; she looked as much like Hanne of Buchel as one stable-girl 
does look like another, and in the reproduction was named Walt- 
puigis. Here, however, I am not speaking of her but of her pro- 
totype Hanne, with whom little Adrian stood on a friendly foot- 
ing because she loved to sing and used to do little exercises with 
us children. Oddly enough, though Elsbeth Leverkuhn, with her 
lovely voice, refrained, in a sort of chaste reserve, from song, this 
creature smelling of her animals made free with it, and sang to us 
lustily, of evenings on the bench under the linden tree. She had 
a strident voice, but a good ear; and she sang all sorts of popular 
tunes, songs of the army and the street; they were mostly either 
gruesome or mawkish and we soon made tunes and words our 
own. When we sang with her, she accompanied us in thirds, and 
from there went down to the lower fifth and lower sixth and 
left us in the treble, while she ostentatiously and predominantly 
sang the second. And probably to fix our attention and make us 
properly value the harmonic enjoyment, she used to stretch her 
mouth and laugh just like Suso the dog when we brought her her 

By we I mean Adrian, myself, and George, who was already 
thirteen when his brother and I were eight and ten years old. 
Little sister Ursel was too small to take part in these exorcises, 
and moreover, of us four probably one was superfluous in the 
kind of vocal music to which Hanne elevated our lusty shoutings. 
She taught us, that is, to sing rounds — of course, the ones that chil- 
dren know best: O, ivie wohl ist rmr am A bend, Es tonen die Lieder, 



and the one about the cuckoo and the ass; and those twilight 
hours in which we enjoyed them remain in my memory — or 
rather the memory of them later took on a heightened signifi- 
cance because it was they, so far as I know, that first brought my 
friend into contact with a “music” somewhat more artistically 
organized than that of mere unison songs. Here was a succession 
of interweaving voices and imitative entries, to which one was 
roused by a poke in the ribs from the stable-girl Hanne when the 
song was already in progress; when the tune had got to a certain 
point but was not yet at the end. The melodic components pre- 
sented themselves in different layers, but no jangle or confusion 
ensued, for the imitation of the first phrase by the second singer 
fitted itself very pleasantly point for point to the continuation 
sung by the first. But if this first part — in the case of the piece 
O, wie wohl 1st mir am Abend — had reached the repeated 
“ Gloeken lauten ” and begun the illustrative “Ding-dang-dong,” 
it now formed the bass not only to “Wemi zur Rulo\" which the 
second voice was just then singing, but also to the beginning “O, 
wie wohl with which, consequent on a fresh nudge in the ribs, 
the third singer entered, only to be relieved, when he had reached 
the second stage of the melody, by the first starting again at the 
beginning, having surrendered to the second as the fundamental 
bass the descriptive “Ding-dang-dong” — and so on. The fourth 
singer inevitably coincided with one of the others, but he tried 
to enliven the doubling by roaring an octave below, or else he 
began before the first voice, so to speak before the dawn with the 
fundamental bell-figure and indefatigably and cheerfully carried 
on with it or the fa, la, la that gaily plays round the earlier stages 
of the melody during the whole duration of the song. 

In this way we were always separate from each other in time, 
but the melodic presence of each kept together pleasantly with 
that of the others and what we produced made a graceful web, 
a body of sound such as unison singing did not; a texture in 
whose polyphony we delighted without inquiring after its nature 
and cause. Even the eight- or nine-year-old Adrian probably did 
not notice. Or did the short laugh, more mocking than surprised, 
which he gave when the last “Ding-dong” faded on the air and 
which I came later to know so well— did it mean that he saw 
through the device of these little songs, which quite simply con- 
sists in that the beginning of the melody subsequently forms the 
second voice and mat the third can serve both as bass? None of 
us was aware that here, led by a stable-girl, we were moving on a 
plane of musical culture already relatively very high, in a realm 



of imitative polyphony, which the fifteenth century had had to 
discover in order to give us pleasure. But when I think back at 
Adrian’s laugh, I find in retrospect that it did have in it something 
of knowledge and mocking initiate sense. He kept it as he grew 
up; I often heard it, sitting with him in theatre or concert-hall, 
when he was struck by some artful trick, some ingenious device 
within the musical structure, noticed only by the few; or by some 
fine psychological allusion in the dialogue of a drama. In the be- 
ginning it was unsuitable for his years, being just as a grown per- 
son would have laughed; a slight expulsion of air from nose and 
mouth, with a toss of the head at the same time, short, cool, yes, 
contemptuous, or at most as though he would say. “Good, that; 
droll, curious, amusing'” But his eyes were taking it in, their 
gaze was afar and strange, and their darkness, metal-sprinkled, 
had put on a deeper shade. 


The chapter just finished is also, for my taste, much too extended. 
It would seem only too advisable to inquire how the reader’s 
patience is holding out. To myself, of course every word I write 
is of burning interest; but what care must I take not to see this 
as a guarantee of the sympathy of the detached reader! And cer- 
tainly I must not forget that I am writing for posterity; not for 
the moment, nor for readers who as yet know nothing of Lever- 
kuhn and so cannot long to know more about him. What I do 
is to prepare these pages for a time when the conditions for public 
interest will be quite different, and certainly much more favour- 
able; when curiosity about the details of so thrilling an existence, 
however well or ill presented, will be more eager and less fas- 

That time will come. Our prison, so wide and yet so narrow, 
so suffocatingly full of foul air, will some day open. I mean when 
the war now raging wiE have found, one way or the other, its 
end— -and how I shudder at this “one way or the other,” both 
for myself and for the awful impasse into which fate has crowded 
the German soul! For I have in mind only one of the two alter- 
natives: only with this one do I reckon, counting upon it against 
my conscience as a German citizen. The never-ending public in- 
struction has impressed on us in aE its horrors the crushing con- 
sequences of a German defeat; we cannot help fearing it more 
than anything else in the world. And yet there is something else — 
some of us fear it at moments which seem to us criminal, but 
others quite frankly and steadily— something we fear more than 
German defeat, and that is German victory. I scarcely dare ask 
myself to which of these group I belong. Perhap to stiE a third, 
in which one yearns indeed, steadily ana consciously, for defeat, 
yet also with perpetual torments of conscience. My wishes and 
hopes must oppose the triumph of German arms, because in it the 
work of my friend would be buried, a ban would rest upon it for 
'perhap a hundred years, it would be forgotten, would miss its 


own age and only in a later one receive historic honour. That is 
the special motivation of my criminal attitude; I share it with a 
scattered number of men who can easily be counted on the fingers 
of my two hands. But my mental state is only a variant of that 
which, aside from cases of ordinary self-interest or extraordinary 
stupidity, has become the destiny of a whole people; and this 
destiny I am inclined to consider in the light of a unique and 
peculiar tragedy, even while I realize that it has been before now 
laid on other nations, for the sake of their own and the general 
future, to wish for the downfall of then: state. But considering 
the decency of the German character, its confidingness, its need 
for loyalty and devotion, I would fain believe than m our case the 
dilemma will come to a unique conclusion as well, and I cannot 
but cherish a deep and strong resentment against the men who 
have reduced so good a people to a state of mind which I believe 
bears far harder on it than it would on any other, estranging it 
beyond healing from itself. I have only to imagine that my own 
sons, through some unlucky chance, became acquainted with the 
contents of these pages and in Spartan denial of every gentler feel- 
ing denounced me to the secret police — to be able to measure, 
yes, actually with a sort of patriotic pride, the abysmal nature of 
this conflict. 

I am entirely aware that with the above paragraph I have again 
regrettably overweighted this chapter, which I had quite intended 
to keep short. I would not even suppress my suspicion, held on 
psychological grounds, that I actually seek digressions and cir- 
cumlocutions, or at least welcome with alacrity any occasion for 
such, because I am afraid of what is coming. I lay before the 
reader a testimony to my good faith in that I give space to the 
theory that I make difficulties because I secretly shrink from 
the task which, urged by love and duty, I have undertaken. But 
nothing, not even my own weakness, shall prevent me from con- 
tinuing to perform it — and I herewith resume my narrative, 
with the remark that it was by our singing of rounds with the 
stable-girl that, so far as I know, Adrian was first brought into 
contact with the sphere of music. Of course I know that as he 
grew older he went with his parents to Sunday service in the 
village church at Oberweiler, where a young music student from 
Weissenfels used to prelude on the little organ and accompany 
the singing of the congregation, even attending its departure with 
timid improvisations. But I was almost never with them, since we 
usually went to Buchel only after morning church and I can but 
say that I never heard from Adrian a word to indicate that his 



young mind was any way moved by the offerings of that youth- 
ful adept; or — that being scarcely likely — that the phenomenon 
of music itself had ever struck him. So far as I can see, even at 
that time and for years afterwards he gave it no attention and 
kept concealed from himself that he had anything to do with the 
world of sound. I see in that a mental reserve; but a physiological 
explanation is also possible, for actually it was at about his four- 
teenth year, at the time of beginning puberty, and so at the end 
of the period of childhood, in the house of his uncle at Kaisers- 
aschem, that he began of his own motion to experiment on the 
piano. And it was at this time that the inherited migraine began 
to give him bad days. 

His brother George’s future was conditioned by his position as 
heir, and he had always felt in complete harmony with it. What 
should become of the second son was for the parents an open 
question, which must be decided according to the tastes and ca- 
pacities he might show; and it was remarkable how early the idea 
was fixed in Us family’s head and in all of ours that Adrian was 
to be a scholar. What sort of scholar remained long in doubt; but 
the whole bearing of the lad, his way of expressing himself, his 
clear definition, even his look, his facial expression, never left a 
doubt, in the mind of my father for instance, that this scion of 
the Leverkiihn stock was called to “something higher”; that he 
would be the first scholar of his line. 

The decisive confirmation of this idea came from the ease, one 
might say the superior facility, with wUch Adrian absorbed the 
instruction of the elementary school. He received it in the pater- 
nal home, for Jonathan Leverkiihn did not send his cUldren to 
the village school, and the cUef factor in this decision was, I be- 
lieve, not so much social ambition as the earnest wish to give 
them a more careful education than they could get from instruc- 
tion in common with the cottage children of Oberweiler. The 
schoolmaster, a still young and sensitive man, who never ceased 
to be afraid of the dog Suso, came over to Buchel afternoons 
when he had finished his official duties, in winter fetched by 
Thomas in the sleigh. By the time he took young Adrian in hand 
he had already given the thirteen-year-old George all the nec- 
essary foundation for his further training as agronomist. But now 
he, schoolmaster Michelson, was the very first to declare, loudly 
and with a certain vehemence, that the boy must “in God’s 
name,” go to Ugh school and the university, for such a learning 
head and lightning brain he, Michelson, had never seen, and it 



would be a thousand pities if one did not do everything to open 
to this young scholar the way to the heights of knowledge. Thus 
or something like it, certainly rather like a seminarist, did he ex- 
press himself, speaking indeed of mgenium , of course in part to 
show off with the word, which sounded droll enough applied to 
such childish achievements. Yet obviously it came from an awed 
and astonished heart. 

I was never present at these lesson-hours and know only by 
hearsay about them; but I can easily imagine that the behaviour 
of my young Adrian must sometimes have been a little hard on 
a preceptor himself young, and accustomed to drive his learning 
with whip and spurs into dull and puzzled or rebellious heads. 
“If you know it all already,” I once heard him say to the boy, 
“then I can go home.” Of course it was not true that the pupil 
“knew it all already.” But his manner did suggest the thought, 
simply because here was a case of that swift, strangely sovereign 
and anticipatory grasp and assimilation, as sure as easy, which 
soon dried up the master’s praise, for he felt that such a head 
meant a danger to the modesty of the heart and betrayed it easily 
to arrogance. From the alphabet to syntax and grammar, from the 
progression of numbers and the first rules to the rule of three 
and simple sums in proportion, from the memorizing of little 
poems (and there was no memorizing, the verses were straight- 
way and with the utmost precision grasped and possessed) to the 
written setting down of his own train of thought on themes out of 
the geography— it was always the same: Adrian gave it his ear, 
then turned round with an air that seemed to say: “Yes, good, so 
much is clear, all right, go on!” To the pedagogic temperament 
there is something revolting about that. Certainly the young 
schoolmaster was tempted again and again to cry: “What is the 
matter with you? Take some pains!” But why, when obviously 
there was no need to take pains? 

As I said, I was never present at the lessons; but I am compelled 
to conclude that my friend received the scientific data purveyed 
by Herr Michelson fundamentally with the same mien, so hard to 
characterize, with which under the lime tree he had accepted the 
fact that if a horizontal melody of nine bars is divided into three 
sections of three bars each, they will still produce a harmonically 
fitting texture. His teacher knew some Latin; he instructed 
Adrian in it and then announced that the lad— he was now ten 
years old — was ready if not for the fifth, then certainly for the 
fourth form. His work was done. 




Thus Adrian left his parents’ house at Easter 1895 and came to 
town to attend our Boniface gymnasium, the school of the 
Brethren of the Common Life. His uncle, Nikolaus Leverkuhn, 
his father’s brother, a respected citizen of Kaisersaschem, de- 
clared himself ready to receive the lad into his house. 


And as for Kaisersaschern, my native town on the Saale, the 
stranger should be informed that it lies somewhat south of Halle, 
towards Thuringia. I had almost said it lay , for long absence has 
made it slip from me into the past. Yet its towers rise as ever on 
the same spot, and I would not know whether its architectural 
profile has suffered so far from the assaults of the air war. In view 
of its historic charm that would be in the highest degree regret- 
table. I can add this quite calmly, since I share with no small part 
of our population, even those hardest hit and homeless, the feel- 
ing that we are only getting what we gave, and even if we must 
suffer more frightfully than we have sinned, we shall only hear 
in our ears that he who sows the wind must reap the whirlwind. 

Neither Halle itself, the industrial town, nor Leipzig, the city 
of Bach the cantor of St. Thomas, nor Weimar, nor even Dessau 
nor Magdeburg is far distant; but Kaisersaschern is a junction, and 
with its twenty-seven thousand inhabitants entirely self-sufficient; 
feeling itself lie every German town a centre of culture, with its 
own historical dignity and importance. It is supported by several 
industries: factories and mills for the production of machinery, 
leather goods, fabrics, arms, chemicals, and so on. Its museum, 
besides a roomful of crude instruments of torture, contains a 
very estimable library of twenty-five thousand volumes and five 
thousand manuscripts, among the latter two books of magic 
charms in alliterative verse; they are considered by some scholars 
to be older than those in Merseburg. The charms are perfectly, 
harmless: nothing worse than a little rain-conjuring, in the dia- 
lect of Fulda. The town was a bishopric in the tenth century, and 
again from the beginning of the twelfth to the fourteenth. It has 
a castle, and a cathedral church where you may see the tomb of 
Kaiser Otto III, son of Adelheid and husband of Theophano, who 
called himself Emperor of the Romans, also Saxonicus; the latter 
not because he wanted to be a Saxon but in the sense on which 
Scipio called himself Africanus, because he had conquered the 
Saxons. He was driven out of his beloved Rome and died in 
misery in the year 1002; his remains were brought to Germany 



and buried in the cathedral in Kaisersaschem — not at all what he 
would have relished himself, for he was a prize specimen of Ger- 
man self-contempt and had been ail his life ashamed of being 

As for the town — which I refer to by choice in the past tense, 
since after all I am speaking of the Kaisersaschem of our youth— 
there is this to be said of it, that in atmosphere as well as m out- 
ward appearance it had kept a distinctly mediaeval air. The old 
churches, the faithfully preserved dwelling-houses and ware- 
houses, buildings with exposed and jutting upper storey; the 
round towers in the wall, with their peaked roofs, the tree- 
studded squares with cobblestones; the Town Hall of mixed 
Gothic and Renaissance architecture, with a bell-tower on the 
high roof, loggias underneath, and two other pointed towers 
forming bays and continuing the facade down to the ground — all 
these gave a sense of continuity with the past. More, even, the 
place seemed to wear on its brow that famous formula of time- 
lessness, the scholastic nunc starts. Its individual character, which 
was the same as three hundred, nine hundred years ago, asserted 
itself against the stream of time passing over it, constantly making 
changes in many things, while others, decisive for the picture, 
were preserved out of piety; that is to say, out of a pious defiance 
of time and also out of pride in them, for the sake of their value 
and their memories. 

This much of the scene itself. But something still hung on the 
air from the spiritual constitution of the men of the last decades 
of the fifteenth century: a morbid excitement, a metaphysical 
epidemic latent since the last years of the- Middle Ages. This was 
a practical, rational modem town.— Yet no, it was not modem, 
it was old; and age is past as presentness, a past merely overlaid 
with, presentness. Rash it may be to say so, but here one could 
imagine strange things: as for instance a movement for a chil- 
dren’s crusade might break out; a St. Vitus’s dance; some wander- 
ing lunatic with communistic visions, preaching a bonfire of the 
vanities; miracles of the Cross, fantastic and mystical folk-move- 
ments —things like these, one felt, might easily come to pass. Of 
course they did not — how should they? The police, acting in 
agreement with the times and the regulations, would not have 
allowed them. And yet what all in our time have the police not 
allowed — again in agreement with the times, which might read- 
ily, by degrees, allow just such things to happen again now? Our 
rime itself tends, secretly — or rather anything but secretly; in- 
deed, quite consciously, with a strangely complacent conscious- 


ness, which makes one doubt the genuineness and simplicity of 
life itself and which may perhaps evoke an entirely false, unblest 
historicity — it tends, I say, to return to those earlier epochs, it 
enthusiastically re-enacts symbolic deeds of sinister significance, 
deeds that strike m the face the spirit of the modem age, such, for 
instance, as the burning of the books and other things of which I 
prefer not to speak. 

The stamp of old-world, underground neurosis which I have 
been describing, the mark and psychological temper of such a 
town, betrays itself in Kaisersaschern by the many “originals,” 
eccentrics, and harmlessly half-mad folk who live within its walls 
and, like the old buildings, belong to the picture. The pendant to 
them is formed by the children, the “young ’uns,” who pursue the 
poor creatures, mock them, and then in superstitious panic run 
away. A certain sort of “old woman” used always m certain 
epochs without more ado to be suspected of witchcraft, simply 
because she looked “queer,” though her appearance may well 
have been, in the first place, nothing but the result of the suspicion 
against her, which then gradually justified itself till it resembled 
the popular fancy: small, grey, bent, with a spiteful face, rheumy 
eyes, hooked nose, thin lips, a threatening crook. Probably she 
owned cats, an owl, a talking bird. Kaisersaschern -harboured 
more than one such specimen; the most popular, most teased and 
feared was Cellar-Lise, so called because she lived in a basement in 
Little Brassfounder’s Alley — an old woman whose figure had so 
assimilated itself to popular prejudice that even the most unaf- 
fected could feel an archaic shudder at meeting her, especially 
when the children were after her and she was putting them to 
flight by spitting curses. Of course, quite definitely there was 
nothing wrong with her at all. 

Here let me be bold enough to express an opinion bom of the 
experiences of our own time. To a friend of enlightenment the 
word and conception “the folk” has always something anachro- 
nistic and alarming about it; he knows that you need only tell a 
crowd they are “the folk” to stir them up to all sorts of reaction- 
ary evil. What all has not happened before our eyes — or just not 
quite before our eyes — in the name of “the folk,” though it could 
never have happened in the name of God or humanity or the law! 
But it is the fact that actually the folk remain the folk, at least in 
a certain stratum of its being, the archaic; and people from Little 
Brassfounder’s Alley and round about, people who voted the So- 
cial-Democratic ticket at the polls, are at the same time capable 
of seeing something daemonic in the poverty of a little old woman 


3 S 

who cannot afford a lodging above-ground. They will clutch 
their children to them when she approaches, to save them from 
the evil eye. And if such an old soul should have to bum again 
today, by no means an impossible prospect, were even a few 
things different, “the folk” would stand and gape behind the bar- 
riers erected by the Mayor, but they would probably not rebel 
— I speak of the folk; but this old, folkish layer survives in us all, 
and to speak as I really think, I do not consider religion the most 
adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, litera- 
ture alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and 
beautiful human being. 

To return to those oddities of Kaisersaschem: there was a man 
of indefinite age who, if suddenly called to on the street, had a 
compulsion to execute a sort of twitching dance with his legs 
drawn up. His face was both ugly and sad, but as though he were 
begging pardon, he would smile at the urchins bawling at his 
heels. Then there was a woman named Mathilde Spiegel, dressed 
in the fashion of a bygone time: she wore a train trimmed with 
ruffles, and a ftadus — a ridiculous corruption of the French flute 
douce, originally meaning flattery, but here used for a curious 
coiffure with curls and ornaments. She wore rouge too, but was 
not immoral, being far too witless; she merely rambled through 
the streets with her nose in the air, accompanied by pug dogs 
with satin saddle-cloths. —A small rentier was another such freak; 
he had a bulbous purple nose, and a big seal ring on his forefin- 
ger. His real name was Schnalle, but he was called Tootle-oo, 
because he had a habit of adding this senseless chirrup to every- 
thing he said. He liked to go to the railway station, and when 
a freight train pulled out would lift his finger and warn the man 
sitting on the roof of the last car: “Don’t fall off, don’t fall off, 

It may be that these grotesque memories are unworthy of in- 
clusion here— I am inclined to believe it. Yet all these figures 
were, in a way, public institutions, uncommonly characteristic of 
the psychological picture of my native town, Adrian’s setting till 
he weitt to the university, for nine years of his young life. I spent 
them at his side, for though by age I was two forms beyond him, 
we kept together, apart from our respective class-mates, during 
the recesses in the walled courtyard, and also met each other in 
the afternoons, in our little studies: either he came over to the 
shop or I went to him in the house of his uncle at Parochial- 
stxasse 15, where the mezzanine storey was occupied by the well- 
known Leverkuhn musical-instruments firm. 


It was a quiet spot, removed from the business section of Kaisers- 
aschem, the Market Street, or Gritsellers’ Row: a tiny street 
without a pavement, near the Cathedral, Nikolaus Leverkiihn’s 
house stood out as the most imposing one in it. It had three 
storeys, not counting the lofts of the separate roof, which was 
built out in bays; and in the sixteenth century it had been the 
dwelling-house of an ancestor of the present owner. It had five 
windows in the first storey above the entrance door and only 
four, with blinds, in the second, where, instead of in the first, the 
family living-rooms lay. Outside, the foundation storey was un- 
whitewashea and unadorned; only above it did the ornamental 
woodwork begin. Even the stairs widened only after the begin- 
ning of the mezzanine, which lay rather high above the stone 
entry, so that visitors and buyers — many of these came from 
abroad, from Halle and even Leipzig— had not too easy a climb 
to the goal of their hopes, the instrument warehouse. But as I 
mean to show forthwith, it was certainly worth a steep climb. 

Nikolaus, a widower — his wife died young — had up to Adrian’s 
coming lived alone in the house with an old-established house- 
keeper, Frau Butze, a maid, and a young Italian from Brescia, 
named Luca Cimabue (he did actually bear the family name of 
the thirteenth-century painter of Madonnas), who was his assist- 
ant and pupil at the trade of violin-making; for Uncle Leverkuhn 
also made violins. He was a man with untidy ash-coloured hair 
hanging loose about his beardless, sympathetically moulded face; 
prominent cheekbones, a hooked, rather drooping nose, a large, 
expressive mouth, and brown eyes with good-heartedness and 
concern as well as shrewdness in their gaze. At home one always 
saw him in a wrinkled fustian smock closed to the throat. I think 
it pleased the childless man to receive a young kinsman in his far 
too spacious house. Also I have heat'd that he let his brother in 
Buchel pay the school fees, but took nothing himself for board 
and lodging. Altogether he treated Adrian, on whom he kept an 
indefinitely expectant eye, like his own son, and greatly enjoyed 



having t his family addition to his table, which for so long had 
had round it only the above-mentioned Frau Rutze and, in patri- 
archal fashion, Luca, his apprentice. 

That this young Italian, a friendly youth speaking a pleasantly 
broken German, had found his way to Kaisersaschern and to 
Adrian’s uncle, when he surely must have had opportunity at 
home to improve himself in his trade, was perhaps surprising, but 
indicated the extent of Nikolaus Leverkuhn’s business connec- 
tions, not only with German centres of instrument-making, like 
Mainz, Braunschweig, Leipzig, Barmen, but also with foreign 
firms in London, Lyons, Bologna, even New York. He drew his 
symphonic merchandise from all quarters and had a reputation for 
a stock-in-trade not only first-class as to quality but also gratify- 
ingly complete and not easily obtainable elsewhere. Thus there 
only needed to be anywhere in the kingdom a Bach festival in 
prospect, for whose performance in classic style an oboe d’amore 
was needed, the deeper oboe long since disappeared from the or- 
chestra, for the old house in Parochialstrasse to receive a visit 
from a client, a musician who wanted to play safe and could try 
out the elegiac instrument on the spot. 

The warerooms in the mezzanine often resounded with such re- 
hearsals, the voices running through the octaves in the most varied 
colours. The whole place afforded a splendid, I might say a cul- 
turally enchanting and alluring sight, stimulating the aural imagi- 
nation till it effervesced. Excepting the piano, which Adrian’s 
foster-father gave over to that special industry, everything was 
here spread out: all that sounds and sings, that twangs and crashes, 
hums and rumbles and roars — even the keyboard instruments, in 
the form of the celesta, the lovely Glockenkhmer, were always 
represented. There hung behind glass, or lay bedded in recepta- 
cles which like mummy cases were made in the shape of their 
occupants, the charming violins, varnished some yellower and 
some browner, their slender bows with silver wire round the nut 
fixed into the lid of the case; Italian ones, the pure, beautiful 
shapes of which would tell the connoisseur that they came from 
Cremona; also Tirolese, t)utch, Saxon, Mittenwald fiddles, and 
some from Leverkuhh’s own workshop. The melodious cello, 
which owes its perfect form to Antonio Stradivari, was there in 
rows; likewise its predecessor, the six-stringed viola da gamba, in 
older works still honoured next to it; the viola and that other 
cousin of the fiddle, the viola alta, were always to be found, as 
well as my own viola d’amore, on whose seven strings I have all 


my life enjoyed performing. My instrument came from the Paro- 
chialstrasse, a present from my parents at my confirmation. 

There were several specimens of the violone, the giant fiddle, 
the unwieldy double-bass, capable of majestic recitative, whose 
pizzicato is more sonorous than the stroke of the kettle-drum, and 
whose harmonics are a veiled magic of almost unbelievable qual- 
ity. And there was also more than one of its opposite number 
among the wood-wind instruments, the contra-bassoon, sixteen- 
foot likewise — in other words, sounding an octave lower than the 
notes indicate — mightily strengthening the basses, built in twice 
the dimensions of its smaller brother the humorous bassoon, to 
which I give that name because it is a bass instrument without 
proper bass strength, oddly weak in sound, bleating, burlesque. 
How pretty it was, though, with its curved mouthpiece, shining 
in the decoration of its keys and levers! What a charming sight 
altogether, this host of shawms in their highly developed stage of 
technical perfection, challenging the passion of the virtuoso in all 
of their forms: as bucolic oboe, as cor Anglais well versed in 
tragic ways; the many-keyed clarinet, which can sound so ghostly 
in the deep chalumeau register but higher up can gleam in silvery 
blossoming harmony, as basset horn and bass clarinet. 

All of these, in their velvet beds, offered themselves in Uncle 
Leverkiihn’s stock, also the transverse flute, in various systems and 
varied execution, made of beechwood, granadilla, or ebony, with 
ivory head-pieces, or else entirely of silver; next their shrill relative 
the piccolo, which in the orchestral tutti piercingly holds the treble, 
dancing in the. music of the will-o’-the-wisp and the fire-magic. 
And now the shimmering chorus of the brasses, from the trim 
trumpet, visible symbol of the clear call, the sprightly song, the 
melting cantilena, through that darling of the romantics, the vo- 
luted valve-horn, the slender and powerful trombone, and the 
comet-a-pistons, to the weighty bass tuba. Rare museum pieces 
such as a pair of beautifully curved bronze lurer turned right and 
left, like steer-horns, were also to be found in Leverkuhn’s ware- 
house. But in a boy’s eyes, as I see it again in retrospect, most gay 
and glorious of all was the comprehensive display of percussion in- 
struments — just because the things that one had found under the 
Christmas tree, the toys and dream-possessions of childhood, now 
turned up in this dignified grown-up display. The side drum, how 
different it looked here from the ephemeral painted thing of 
wood, parchment, and twine we thumped on as six-year-olds! It 
was not meant to hang round your neck. The lower membrane 




was stretched with gut strings, it was screwed fast for orchestral 
use, in conveniently slanting position, on a metal trivet,’ and the 
wooden sticks, also much nicer than ours, stuck invitingly into 
rings at the sides. There was the glockenspiel; we had had a child- 
hood version of it, on which we practised Konzmt ein Vogel geflo- 
gen. Here, in an elegant locked case, lying in pairs on cross-bars 
and free to swing, were the metal plates, so meticulously tuned, 
with the delicate little steel hammers belonging to them and kept 
in the lined lid of the case. The xylophone, which seems made to 
conjure up a vision of a dance of skeletons — here it was with its 
numerous wooden bars, arranged in the chromatic scale. There 
was the giant studded cylinder of the bass drum, with a felt-covered 
stick to beat it; and the copper kettle-drum, sixteen of which 
Berlioz still included in his orchestra. He did not know the pedal 
drum as represented here, which the drummer can with his hand 
easily adapt to a change of key. How well I remember the pranks 
we practised on it, Adrian and I — no, it was probably only I — 
making the sticks roll on the membrane while the good Luca tuned 
it up and down, so that a thudding and thumping in the strangest 
glissando ensued. And then there were the extraordinary cymbals, 
which only the Turks and the Chinese know how to make, be- 
cause they have preserved the secret of hammering molten bronze. 
The performer, after clashing them, holds up their inner sides in 
triumph towards the audience. The reverberating gong, the tam- 
bourine beloved of the gypsies, the triangle with its open end, 
sounding brightly under the steel stick; the cymbals of today, the 
hollow castanets clacking in the hand. Consider all this splendid 
feast of sound, with the golden, gorgeous structure of the Erard 
pedal harp towering above it — and now easy it is to feel the fas- 
cination that Uncle’s warehouse had for us, this silent paradise, 
which yet in hundreds of forms heralded sweetest harmony! 

For us? No, I shall do better to speak only of myself, my own 
enchantment, my own pleasure — I scarcely dare to include my 
friend when I speak of those feelings. Perhaps he wanted to play 
the son of the house, to whom the warerooms were commonplace 
everyday; perhaps the coolness native to him in general might thus 
express itself; for he maintained an almost shoulder-shrugging in- 
difference to all these splendours, replying to my admiring ex- 
clamations with his short laugh and a “Yes, very nice” or “Funny 
stuff” or “What all don’t people think of 1 ” or “More fun to sell 
this than groceries.” Sometimes — I repeat that it was at my wish, 
not his— we would descend from his attic, which gave a pleasant 
view over the roofs of the town, the castle pond, the old water- 



tower, and invade the show-rooms. They were not forbidden to 
us; but young Cimabue came too, partly, I suspect, to keep guard, 
but also to play cicerone in his pleasant way. From him we learned 
the history of the trumpet: how once it had to be put together 
out of several metal tubes with a ball connection, before we 
learned the art of bending brass tubes without splitting them, by 
first filling them with pitch and resin, then with lead, which was 
melted again in the fire. And then he could explain the assertion 
of the cognoscenti that it made no difference what material, 
whether wood or metal, an instrument was made of, it sounded 
according to its family shape and proportions. A flute might be 
made of wood or ivory, a trumpet of brass or silver, it made no 
difference. But his master, he said, Adrian’s zio, disputed that. He 
knew the importance of the material, the sort of wood and var- 
nish used, and engaged to be able to tell by listening to a flute 
what it was made of. He, Luca, would do the same. Then with 
his small, shapely Italian hands he would show us the mechanism 
of the flute, which in the last one hundred and fifty years, since 
the famous virtuoso Quantz, saw such great changes and devel- 
opments: the mechanism of Boehm’s cylindrical flute, more pow- 
erful than the old conical, which sounds sweeter. He showed us 
the system of fingering on the clarinet and the seven-holed bas- 
soon with its twelve closed and four open keys, whose sound 
blends so readily with that of the horns; instructed us about the 
compas^ of the instruments, the way to play them and more such 

There can now be no doubt that Adrian, whether he was aware 
of it or not, followed these demonstrations with at least as much 
attention as I — and with more profit than it was given me to draw 
from them. But he betrayed nothing, not a gesture indicated that 
all this concerned or ever would concern him. He let me ask Luca 
the questions, yes, he moved away, looked at something else than 
the thing under discussion, and left me alone with the assistant. 
I will not say that he was shamming, and I do not forget that at 
that time music had hardly any reality to us other than that of 
the purely material objects in Nikolaus Leverkiihn’s storerooms. 
We were indeed brought into cursory contact with chamber mu- 
sic, for every week or so there was a performance in Adrianas 
uncle’s house, but only occasionally in my presence and by no 
means always in his. The players were our Cathedral organist, 
Herr Wendell Kretschmar, a stutterer, who was later to become 
Adrian’s teacher, and the singing-master from the Boniface gym- 
zlasium; Adrian’s uncle played with them, quartets by Haydn and 



Mozart, he himself playing first violin, Luca Cimabue second, 
Herr Kretschmar cello, and the singing-master the viola. These 
were masculine evenings, with the beer-glass on the floor beside 
the chair, a cigar in the mouth, and frequent bursts of talk, 
strange, dry interruptions in the middle of the language of music; 
tapping of the bow and counting back of the bars when the 
players got out, which was almost ahv ays the fault of the singing- 
master. A real concert, a symphony orchestra, we had never 
heard, and whoever likes may find therein an explanation of 
Adrian's obvious indifference to the world of instruments. At any 
rate he seemed to think it must be sufficient, and so considered it 
himself. What I mean is he hid himself behind it, hid himself from 
music, very long, with instinctive persistence, he hid himself from 
his destiny. 

Anyhow, nobody for a long time thought of connecting young 
Adrian in any way with music. The idea that he was destined to 
be a scholar was fixed in their minds and continually strengthened 
by his brilliant performance in school, his rank in his form, which 
began slightly to waver only in the upper forms, say from the 
fifth on, when he was fifteen. This was on account of the mi- 
graine, which from then on hindered him in the little preparation 
he had to do. Even so he easily mastered the demands made on 
him — though the word “mastered” is not well chosen, for it cost 
him nothing to satisfy them. And if his excellence as a pupil did 
not earn for him the affection of his masters, for it did not, as I 
often observed — one saw instead a certain irritation, a desire to 
trap him — it was not so much that they found him conceited, 
though they did. They did not, however, think him proud of his 
achievements; the trouble was, he was not proud enough, just 
therein lay his arrogance. He obviously looked down on all this 
that was so easy for him: that is, the subject-matter of the les- 
sons, the various branches of study, the purveying of which made 
up the dignity and the livelihood of the masters. It was only too 
natural that they should not enjoy seeing these things so com- 
petently and carelessly dismissed. 

For my own part I had much more cordial relations with them 
— no wonder, since I was soon to join their number and had even 
seriously announced my intention. I too might call myself a good 
pupil; but I was and might call myself so only because my rev- 
erent love for my chosen field, especially the ancient tongues and 
the classic poets and writers, summoned and stimulated what 
powers I had, while he on every occasion made it clear— to me 
he made no secret of it and I fear it was not one to the masters 



either — how indifferent and so to speak unimportant to him the 
whole of his education was. This often distressed me, not on ac- 
count of his career, which thanks to his facility was not endan- 
gered, but because I asked myself what was not indifferent and 
unimportant to him. I did not see the “main thing,” and really it 
was not there to see. In those years school life is life itself, it 
stands for all that life is, school interests bound the horizon that 
every life needs in order to develop values, through which, how- 
ever relative they are, the character and the capacities are sus- 
tained. They can, however, do that, humanly speaking, only if the 
relativeness remains unrecognized. Belief in absolute values, illu- 
sory as it always is, seems to me a condition of life. But my 
friend’s gifts measured themselves against values the relative char- 
acter of which seemed to lie open to him, without any visible pos- 
sibility of any other relation which would have detracted from 
them as values. Bad pupils there are in plenty. But Adrian pre- 
sented the singular phenomenon of a bad pupil as the head or the 
form. I say that it distressed me, but how impressive, how fas- 
cinating, I found it too! How it strengthened my devotion to him, 
mingling with it — can one understand why? — something like 
pain, like hopelessness! 

I will make one exception to this uniform ironic contempt 
which he presented to what the school offered him and the claims 
it made upon him. That was his apparent interest in a discipline 
in which I myself did not shine — mathematics. My own weak- 
ness in this field, which was only tolerably made good by joyful 
application in philology, made me realize that excellence in per- 
formance is naturally conditioned by sympathy with the subject 
and thus it was a real boon to me to see this condition — at least 
here — fulfilled by my friend too. Mathesis, as applied logic, which 
yet confines itself to pure and lofty abstractions, holds a peculiar 
middle position between the humanistic and the practical sciences, 
and from the explanations which Adrian gave me of the pleasure 
he took in it, it appeared that he found this middle position at 
once higher, dominating, universal, or, as he expressed it, “the 
true.” It was a genuine pleasure to hear him describe anything as 
“the true,” it was an anchor, a hold, not quite in vain did one in- 
quire about “the main thing.” “You are a lout,” he said, “not to 
like it. To look at the relations between things must be the best 
thing, after all Order is everything. Romans xiii: ‘For there is no 

S >wer but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.’ ” 
e reddened, .and I looked at him large-eyed. It turned out that 
he was religious. 



With him everything had first to “turn out,” one had to take 
him by surprise, catch him in the act, get behind the words; then 
he would go red, and one would have liked to kick oneself for not 
having seen it before. He went further than necessary in his al- 
gebra, played with the logarithmic tables for sheer amusement, 
sat over equations of the second class before he had been asked to 
identify unknown quantities raised to a higher power. I caught 
him at all that by mere chance, and even then he spoke mockingly 
of them before he made the above admissions. Another discovery, 
not to say unmasking, had preceded this: I have already men- 
tioned his self-taught and secret exploration of the keyboard, the 
chord, the compass of tonality, the cycle of fifths, and how he, 
without knowledge of notes or fingering, used this harmonic basis 
to practise all sorts of modulations and to build up melodic pic- 
tures rhythmically undefined. When I discovered all this, he was 
in his fifteenth year. I had sought him in vain one afternoon in 
his room, and found him before a little harmonium which stood 
rather unregarded in the corridor of the family rooms. For a mo- 
ment I had listened, standing at the door, but not quite liking this 
I went forward and asked him what he was doing. He iet the bel- 
lows rest, took his hands from the manuals, blushed and laughed. 
“Idleness,” he said, “is the mother of all vice. I was bored. When 
I am bored I sometimes poke about down here. The old treadle- 
box stands here pretty forlorn; but for all its simpleness it has the 
meat of the matter in it. Look, it is curious — that is, of course, 
there is nothing curious about it, but when you make it out the 
first time for yourself it is curious how it all hangs together and 
leads round in a circle.” 

And he played a chord: all black keys, F sharp, A sharp, C 
sharp, added an E, and so unmasked the chord, which had looked 
like F-sharp major, as belonging to B major, as its dominant, 
“Such a chord,” he said, “has of itself no tonality. Everything is 
relation, and the relation forms the circle.” The A, which, forcing 
the resolution into G sharp, leads over from B major to E major, 
lect bim on, and so via the keys of A, D, and G he came to C ma- 
Sfgd to the flat keys, as he demonstrated to me that on each 
ffce twelve notes of the chromatic scale one could build a 
fg^gf&najor or minor scale. 

that is an old story,” he said. “That struck me a long 
Now look how you can improve on it!” And he began 
modulations between more distant keys, by using the 
s^44SspteIation of the third, the Neapolitan sixth. 


Not that he would have known how to name these things; but 
he repeated: 

“Relationship is everything. And if you want to give it a more 
precise name, it is ambiguity.” To illustrate the meaning of the 
word, he played me chord-progressions belonging to no definite 
key; demonstrated for me how such a progression fluctuates be- 
tween C major and G major, if one leaves out the F, that in G ma- 
jor turns into F sharp; how it keeps the ear uncertain as to whether 
that progression is to be' understood as belonging to C major or 
F major if one avoids the B, which in F major is flattened to B flat. 

“You know what I find?” he asked. “That music turns the 
equivocal into a system. Take this or that note. You can under-, 
stand it so or respectively so. You can think of it as sharpened or 
flattened, and you can, if you are clever, take advantage of the 
double sense as much as you like.” In short, in principle he showed 
himself aware of enharmonic changes and not unaware of certain 
tricks by which one can by-pass keys and use the enharmonic 
change for modulations. 

Why was I more than surprised, namely moved and a little 
startled? His cheeks were hot, as they never were in school, not 
even over his algebra. I did indeed ask him to improvise for me a 
little, but felt something like relief when he put me off with a 
“Nonsense, nonsense!” What sort of relief was that? It might have 
taught me how proud I was of his general indifference, and how 
clearly I felt that in his “It is curious,” indifference became a mask. 
I divined a budding passion — a passion of Adrian’s! Should I have 
been glad? Instead, I felt at once ashamed and anxious. 

I knew now that he, when he thought himself alone, worked on 
his music; indeed, in the exposed position of the old instrument that 
could not long remain a secret. One evening his foster-father said 
to him: 

“ Well, nephew, from what I heard today you were not prac- 
tising for the first time.” 

“What do you mean, Uncle Niko?” 

“Don’t be so innocent! You were making music.” 

“What an expression! ” 

“It has had to serve for worse. How you got from F major to 
A major, that was pretty clever. Does it amuse you?” 

“Oh, Uncle!” 7 

“Well, of course. I’ll tell you something: We’ll put the old box 
up nyyour room, nobody sees it down here anyhow. Then you’ll 
have it at hand, to use when you feel like it.” 



“You’re frightfully good. Uncle, but surely it is not u orth the 

■ “It’s so little trouble that even so the pleasure might be greater. 
And anyhow, nephew, you ought to have piano lessons.” 

“Do you think so, Uncle Niko? I don’t know, it sounds like a 
girls’ high school.” 

“Might be higher and still not quite girls’! If you go to 
Kretschmar, it will be something like. He won’t skm us alive, be- 
cause of our old friendship, and you will get a foundation for 
your castles In the air. I’ll speak to him.” 

Adrian repeated this conversation to me literally, in the school 
court. From now on he had lessons twice a week from Wendell 


Wendell Kretschmar, at that time still young, at most in the 
second half of his twenties, was bom in the state of Pennsylvania 
of German-American parentage. He had got his musical educa- 
tion m his country of origin; but he was early drawn back to the 
old world whence his grandparents had once migrated, and where 
his own roots lay and those of his art. In the course of his wan- 
derings, the stages and sojourns of which seldom lasted more than 
a year or so, he had become our organist in Kaisersaschem. It was 
only an episode, preceded by others (he had worked as conductor 
in small state theatres in the Reich and Switzerland) and followed 
certainly by others still. He had even appeared as composer and 
produced an opera, The Statue , which was well received and 
played on many stages. 

Unpretentious in appearance, a short, thickset, bullet-headed 
man with a little clipped moustache and brown eyes prone to 
laughter, with now a musing and now a pouncing look, he might 
have meant a real boon to the cultural life of Kaisersaschem if 
there had been any such life to begin with. Hxs organ-playing was 
expert and excellent, but you could count on the fingers of one 
hand the number of those in the community able to appreciate it. 
Even so, a considerable number of people were attracted by his 
free afternoon concerts, in which he regaled us with organ music 
by Michael Bretorius, Froberger, Buxtehude, and of course Sebas- 
tian Bach, also all sorts of curious genre compositions from the 
time between Handel’s and Haydn’s highest periods. Adrian and 
I attended the concerts regularly. A complete failure, on the other 
hand, at least to all appearance, were the lectures which he held 
indefatigably throughout a whole season in the hall of the Society 
of Activitieis for the Common Weal, accompanied by illustrations 
on the piano and demonstrations on a blackboard. They were a 
failure in the first place because our population had on principle 
no use for lectures; and secondly because his themes were not 
popular but rather capricious and out of the ordinary; and in the 
third place because his stutter made listening to them a nerve- 



racking occupation, sometimes, bringing your heart into your 
mouth, sometimes tempting you to laughter, and altogether cal- 
culated to distract your attention from the intellectual treat in 
anxious expectation of the next convulsion. 

His stutter was of a particularly typical and developed kind — 
tragic, because he was a man gifted with gieat and urgent riches 
of thought, passionately addicted to giving out information. And 
his little bark would move upon the waters by stretches swift and 
dancing, with a suspicious ease that might make one forget and 
scout his affliction. But inevitably, from time to time, while con- 
stantly and only too justifiably awaited, came the moment of dis- 
aster; and there he stood with red, swollen face on the rack; 
whether stuck on a sibilant, which he weathered with wide- 
stretched mouth, making the noise of an engine giving off steam; 
or wrestling with a labial, his cheeks puffed out, his lips launched 
into a crackling quick-fire of short, soundless explosions; or 
finally, when with his breathing in helpless disorder, his mouth 
like a funnel, he would gasp for breath like a fish out of water; 
laughing with tears in his eyes, for it is a fact that he himself 
seemed to treat the thing as a joke. Not everybody could take 
that consoling view; the public was really not to be blamed if it 
avoided the lectures with that degree of unanimity that in fact sev- 
eral times not more than half a dozen hearers occupied the seats: 
my parents, Adrian’s uncle, young Gmabue, the two of us, and a 
few pupils from the girls’ high school, who did not fail to giggle 
when the speaker' stuttered. 

Kretschmar would have been ready to defray out of his own 
pocket such expenses for haU and lighting as were not covered 
by the ticket money. But my father and Nikolaus Leverkuhn had 
arranged in committee to have the society make up the deficit, or 
rather relinquish the charge for the hall, on the plea that the lec- 
tures were important for culture and served the common good. 
That was a fnendly gesture; the effect on the common weal was 
doubtful, since the community did not attend them, in part, as 1 
said, because of the all too specialized character of the subjects 
treated. Wendell Kretschmar honoured the principle, which we 
repeatedly heard from his lips, first formed by the English tongue, 
that to arouse interest was not a question of the interest of others, 
but of our own; it could only be done, but then infallibly was, if 
one was fundamentally interested in a thing oneself, so that when 
one talked about it one could hardly help drawing others in, in- 
fecting them with it, and so creating an interest up to then not 



present or dreamed of. And that was worth a great deal more 
than catering to one already existent. 

It was a pity that our public gave him almost no opportunity 
to prove his theory. With us few, sitting at his feet in the yawn- 
ing emptiness of the old hall with the numbered chairs, he proved 
it conclusively, for he held us charmed by things of which we 
should never have thought they could so capture our attention; 
even his frightful impediment did in the end only affect us as a 
stimulating and compelling expression of the zeal he felt. Often 
did we all nod at him consolingly when the calamity came to 
pass, and one or the other of the gentlemen would utter a sooth- 
ing “There, there!” or “It’s all right,” or “Never mind!” Then the 
spasm would relax in a merry, apologetic smile and things would 
run on again in almost uncanny fluency, for a while. 

What did he talk about? Well, the man was capable of spend- 
ing a whole hour on the question: Why did Beethoven not write 
a third movement to the Piano Sonata Opus 111? It is without 
doubt a matter worth discussing. But think of it in the light of 
the posters outside the hall of Activities for the Common Weal, 
or inserted in the Kaisersaschem Railway Journal, and ask your- 
self the amount of public interest it could arouse. People posi- 
tively did not want to know why Op. 1 1 1 has only two move- 
ments. We who were present at the explanation had indeed an 
uncommonly enriching evening, and this althohgh the sonata un- 
der discussion was to that date entirely unknown to us. Still it was 
precisely through these lectures that we got to know it, and as a 
matter of fact very much in detail; for Kretschmar played it to 
us on the inferior cottage piano that was all he could command, 
a grand piano not being granted him. He played it capitally de- 
spite the rumbling noise the instrument made; analysing its intel- 
lectual content with great impressiveness as he went, describing 
the circumstances under which it — and two others — were writ- 
ten and expatiating with caustic wit upon the master’s own ex- 
planation of the reason why he had not done a third movement 
corresponding to the first Beethoven, it seems, had calmly an- 
swered this question, put by his famulus, by saying that he had 
not had time and therefore had somewhat extended the second 
movement. No time! And he had said it “calmly,” to boot. The 
contempt for the questioner which lay in such an answer had ob- 
viously not been noticed, but it was justified contempt. And now 
the speaker described Beethoven’s condition in the year 1820, 
when his hearing, attacked by a resistless ailment, was in progres- 



sive decay, and it had already become clear that he could no 
longer conduct his ow n w orks. Kretschmar told us about the ru- 
mours that the famous author was quite written out, his produc- 
tive powers exhausted, himself incapable of larger enterprises, and 
busying himself like the old Haydn with writing down Scottish 
songs. Such reports had continually gained ground, because for 
several years no work of importance bearing his name had come 
on the market. But in the late autumn, returning to Vienna from 
Modling, where he had spent the summer, the master had sat 
down and written these three compositions for the piano with- 
out, so to speak, once looking up from the notes, all in one burst, 
and gave notice of them to his patron, the Count of Brunswick, 
to reassure him as to his mental condition. And then Kretschmar 
talked about the Sonata in C minor, which indeed it was not easy 
to see as a well-rounded and intellectually digested work, and 
which had given his contemporary critics, and his friends as well, 
a hard aesthetic nut to crack. These friends and admirers, Kretsch- 
mar said, simply could not follow the man they revered beyond 
the height to which at the time of his maturity he had brought 
the symphony, the piano sonata, and the classical string quartet. 
In the works of the last period they stood with heavy hearts be- 
fore a process of dissolution or alienation, of a mounting into an 
air no longer familiar or safe to meddle with; even before a -plus 
ultra, wherein they had been able to see nothing else than a de- 
generation of tendencies previously present, an excess of intro- 
spection and speculation, an extravagance of minutiae and scien- 
tific musicality — applied sometimes to such simple material as the 
arietta theme of the monstrous movement of variations which 
forms the second part of this sonata. The theme of this move- 
ment goes through a hundred vicissitudes, a hundred worlds of 
rhythmic contrasts, at length outgrows itself, and is finally lost 
in giddy heights that one might call other-worldly or abstract. 
And in just that very way Beethoven’s art had overgrown itself, 
risen out of the habitable regions of tradition, even before the 
startled gaze of human eyes, into spheres of the entirely and ut- 
terly and nothing-but personal — an ego painfully isolated in the 
absolute, isolated too from sense by the loss of his hearing; lonely 
prince of a realm of spirits, from whom now only a chilling 
breath issued to terrify his most willing contemporaries, s tanding 
as they did aghast at these communications of which only at mo- 
ments, only by exception, they could understand anything at all. 

So far, so good, said Kretschmar. And yet again, good or right 
only conditionally and incompletely. For one would usually con- 


nect with the conception of the merely personal, ideas of limitless 
subjectivity and of radical harmonic will to expression, in contrast 
to polyphonic objectivity (Kretschmar was concerned to have us 
impress upon our minds this distinction between harmonic sub- 
jectivity and polyphonic objectivity) and this equation, this con- 
trast, here as altogether m the masterly late works, would simply 
not apply. As a matter of fact, Beethoven had been far more “sub- 
jective,” not to say far more “personal,” in his middle period than 
m his last, had been far more bent on taking all the flourishes, 
formulas, and conventions, of which music is certainly full, and 
consuming them m the personal expression, melting them into 
the subjective dynamic. The relation of the later Beethoven to the 
conventional, say in the last five piano sonatas, is, despite all the 
uniqueness and even uncanniness of the formal language, quite 
different, much more complaisant and easy-going. Untouched, 
untransformed by the subjective, convention often appeared in 
the late works, in a baldness, one might say exhaustiveness, an 
abandonment of self, with an effect more majestic and awful than 
any reckless plunge into the personal. In these forms, said the 
speaker, the subjective and the coventional assumed a new rela- 
tionship, conditioned by death. 

At this word Kretschmar stuttered violently; sticking fast at the 
first sound and executing a sort of machine-gun fire with his 
tongue on the roof of his mouth, with jaw and chin both quiver- 
ing, before they settled on the vowel which told us what he 
meant. But when we had guessed it, it seemed hardly proper to 
take it out of his mouth and shout it to him, as we sometimes did, 
in jovial helpfulness. He had to say it himself and he did. Where 
greatness and death come together, he declared, there arises an ob- 
jectivity tending to the conventional, which in its majesty leaves 
the most domineering subjectivity far behind, because therein the 
merely personal — which had after all been the surmounting of a 
tradition already brought to its peak — once more outgrew itself, 
in that it entered into the mythical, the collectively great and 

He did not ask if we understood that, nor did we ask ourselves. 
When he gave it as his view that the main point was to hear it, 
we fully agreed. It was in the light of what he had said, he went 
on, that the work he was speaking of in particular. Sonata Op. 
1 1 1, was to be regarded. And then he sat down at the cottage 
piano and played us the whole composition out of his head, the 
first and the incredible second movement, shouting his comments 
into the midst of his playing and in order to make us conscious of 



the treatment demonstrating here and there in his enthusiasm by- 
singing as well; altogether it made a spectacle partly entrancing, 
partly funny; and repeatedly greeted with merriment by his little 
audience. For as he had a very powerful attack and exaggerated 
the forte, he had to shriek extra loud to make what he said half- 
way intelligible and to smg with all the strength of his lungs to 
emphasize vocally what he played. With his lips he imitated what 
the hands played. “Tum-tum, turn-turn, tum-tr-r!” he went, as he 
played the grim and startling first notes of the first movement; he 
sang in a high falsetto the passages of melodic loveliness by which 
the ravaged and tempestuous skies of the composition are at in- 
tervals brightened as though by faint glimpses of light. At last 
he laid his hands in his lap, was quiet a moment, and then said: 
“Here it comes!” and began the variations movement, the “adagio 
molto semplice e cantabileP 

The arietta theme, destined to vicissitudes for which in its idyl- 
lic innocence it would seem not to be bom, is presented at once, 
and announced in sixteen bars, reducible to a motif which appears 
at the end of its first half, like a brief soul-cry — only three notes, 
a quaver, a semiquaver, and a dotted crotchet to be scanned as, 
say: “heav-en’s blue, lov-ers* pain, fare-thee well, on a-time, 
mead-ow-land” — and that is all. What now happens to this mild 
utterance, rhythmically, harmonically, contxapuntaliy, to this pen- 
sive, subdued formulation, with what its master blesses and to 
what condemns it, into what black nights and dazzling flashes, 
crystal spheres wherein coldness and heat, repose and ecstasy are 
one and the same, he flings it down and lifts it up, all that one may 
well call vast, strange, extravagantly magnificent, without thereby 
giving it a name, because it is quite truly nameless; and with la- 
bouring hands Kretschmar played us all those enormous transfor- 
mations, singing at the same time with the greatest violence: 
“Dim-dada!” and mingling his singing with shouts. “These chains 
of trills!” he yelled. “These flourishes and cadenzas! Do you hear 
the conventions that are left in? Here— the language— is no 
longer — purified of the flourishes — but the flourishes — of the ap- 
pearance — of .their subjective — domination — the appearance — of 
art is thrown off — at last — art always throws off the appearance 
of art. Dim-dada! Do listen, how here — the melody is dragged 
down by the centrifugal weight of chords! It becomes static, mo- 
notonous — twice D, three times D, one after the other — the 
chords do it — dim-dada! Now notice what happens here — ” 

It was extraordinarily difficult to listen to his shouts and to the 
highly complicated musid both at once. We all tried. We strained. 



leaning forward, hands between knees, looking by turn at his 
hands and his mouth. The characteristic of the movement of 
course is the wide gap between bass and treble, between the right 
and the left hand, and a moment comes, an utterly extreme situa- 
tion, when the poor little motif seems to hover alone and forsaken 
above a giddy yawning abyss — a procedure of awe-inspiring un- 
earthliness, to which then succeeds a distressful making-of-itself- 
small, a start of fear as it were, that such a thing could happen. 
Much else happens before the end. But when it ends and while it 
ends, something comes, after so much rage, persistence, obstinacy, 
extravagance: something entirely unexpected and touching in its 
mildness and goodness. With the motif passed through many vi- 
cissitudes, which takes leave and so doing becomes itself entirely 
leave-taking, a parting wave and call, with this D G G occurs 
a slight change, it experiences a small melodic expansion. After 
an introductory C, it puts a C sharp before the D, so that it no 
longer scans “heav-en’s blue,” “mead-owland,” but “O-thou 
heaven’s blue,” “Green-est meadowland,” “Fare-thee well for 
aye,” and this added C sharp is the most moving, consolatory, pa- 
thetically reconciling thing in the world. It is like having one’s 
hair or cheek stroked, lovingly, understandingly, like a deep and 
silent farewell look. It blesses the object, the frightfully harried 
formulation, with overpowering humanity, lies in parting so 
gently on the hearer’s heart in eternal farewell that the eyes run 
over. “Now for-get the pain,” it says. “Great was — God in us.” 
“’Twas all— but a dream,” “Friendly — be to me.” Then it 
breaks off. Quick, hard triplets hasten to a conclusion with which 
any other piece might have ended. 

Kretschmar did not return from the piano to his desk. He sat on 
his revolving stool with his face turned towards us, in the same 
position as ours, bent over, hands between his knees, and in a few 
words brought to an end his lecture on why Beethoven had not 
written a third movement to Op. in. We had only needed, he 
said, to hear the piece to answer the question ourselves. A third 
movement? A hew approach? A return after this parting — im- 
possible! It had happened that the sonata had come, in the second, 
enormous movement, to an end, an end without any return. And 
'when he said “the sonata,” he meant not only this one in C minor, 
but the sonata in general, as a species, as traditional art-form; it 
itself was here at an end, brought to its end, it had fulfilled its 
destiny, reached its goal, beyond which there was no going, it 
cancelled and resolved itself, it took leave — the gesture of fare- 
well of the D G G motif, consoled by the C sharp, was a leave- 



taking in this sense too, great as the whole piece itself, the fare- 
well of the sonata form. 

With this Kretschmar went away, accompanied by thin but 
prolonged applause, and we went too, not a little reflective, 
weighed down by all these novelties. Most of us, as usual, as we 
put on our coats and hats and walked out, hummed bemusedly to 
ourselves the impression of the evening, the theme-generating 
motif of the second movement, in its original and its leave-taking 
form, and for a long time we heard it like an echo from the re- 
moter streets into which the audience dispersed, the quiet mght 
streets of the little town: “Fare — thee well,” “fare thee well for 
aye,” “Great was God in us.” 

That was not the last time we heard the stutterer on Beethoven. 
He spoke again soon, this time on “Beethoven and the Fugue.” 
This lecture too I remember quite clearly, and see the announce- 
ment before me, perfectly aware that it, as little as the other, was 
likely to produce m the hall of the “Common Weal” any crowd 
so large as to endanger life and limb. But our little group got 
from this evening too the most positive pleasure and profit. Al- 
ways, we were told, the opponents and rivals of the bold inno- 
vator asserted that Beethoven could not write a fugue. “That he 
just cannot,” they said, and probably they knew what they were 
talking about, for this respectable art-form stood at the time in 
high honour, and no composer found favour in the high court of 
music or satisfied the commands of the potentates and great gen- 
tlemen who issued them if he did not stand his man in the perfec- 
tion of the fugue. Prince Esterhazy was an especial friend of this 
master art, but in the Mass in C which Beethoven wrote for him, 
the composer, after unsuccessful attempts, had not arrived at a 
fugue; even socially considered, that was a discourtesy, but artis- 
tically it had been an unpardonable lack, and the oratorio Christ 
on the Mount of Olives altogether lacked any fugue form, al- 
though it would have been most proper there. Such a feeble effort 
as the fugue in the third quartet of Op. 59 was not calculated to 
counteract the view that the great man was a bad contrapuntist 
— in which the opinion of the authoritative musical world could 
only have been strengthened by the passages in fugue form in the 
funeral march in the Erotca ” and the Allegretto of the A major 
Symphony. And now the closing movement of the Cello Sonata 
in D, Op. 102, superscribed “Allegro fugato”! The outcry, the 
fist-shaking, had been great, Kretschmar told us. Unclear to the 
point of unenjoyableness, that was what they, taxed the whole 
with being; but at least for twenty bars long, they said, there 



reigned such scandalous confusion — principally in consequence 
of too strongly coloured modulations — that after it one could 
close the case for the incapacity of this man to write in the “strict 

I interrupt myself in my reproduction to remark that the lec- 
turer was talking about matters and things in the world of art, 
situations that had never come within our horizon and only ap- 
peared now on its margin in shadowy wise through the always 
compromised medium of his speech. We were unable to check up 
on it except through his own explanatory performances on the 
cottage piano, and we listened to it all with the dimly excited 
fantasy of children hearing a fairy-story they do not understand, 
while their tender minds are none the less in a strange, dreamy, 
intuitive way enriched and advantaged. Fugue, counterpoint, 
“ Eroica “confusion in consequence of too strongly coloured 
modulations,” “strict style” — all that was just magic spells to us, 
but we heard it as greedily, as large-eyed, as children always hear 
what they do not understand or what is even entirely unsuitable 
— indeed, with far more pleasure than the familiar, fitting, and 
adequate can give them. Is it believable that this is the most in- 
tensive, splendid, perhaps the very most productive way of learn- 
ing- the anticipatory way, learning that spans wide stretches of 
ignorance? As a pedagogue I suppose I should not speak in its 
behalf, but I do know that it profits youth extraordinarily. And 
I believe that the stretches jumped over fill in of themselves in 

Beethoven, then, so we heard, was reputed not to be able to 
write a fugue; and now the question was how far this malicious 
criticism was true. Obviously he had taken pains to refute it Sev- 
eral times he had written fugues into his later piano music, and 
indeed m three voices: in the “ Hammer klavier ” Sonata as well as 
the one in A major. Once he had added: “with some liberties” 
(“ mit eimgen Freiheiten”), in token that the rules he had of- 
fended against were well known to him. Why he ignored them, 
whether arbitrarily or because he had not managed it, remained 
a vexed question. And then had come the great fugue overture, 
Op. 124, and the majestic fugues in the Gloria and the Credo in 
.evidence at last that in die struggle with this angel the great 
wrestler had conquered, even though thereafter he halted on his 

Kretschmar told us a frightful story, impressing upon our minds 
an unforgettable and awful picture of the sacred trials of this 
struggle and the person of the afflicted artist. It was in high sum- 


5 8 

mer of the year 1819, at the time when Beethoven was working 
on the Missa solemnis in the Haffner house at Modling, in despair 
because each movement turned out much longer than he had an- 
ticipated, so that the date of completion, March of the following 
year, in which the installation of the Archduke Rudolf as Bishop 
of Olmutz was to take place, could not possibly be kept to. It 
was then that two friends and professional colleagues visited him 
one afternoon and found an alarming state of things. That same 
morning the master’s two maids had made off, for the night be- 
fore, at about one o’clock, there had been a furious quarrel, rous- 
ing the whole house from slumber. The master had wrought late 
into the night, on the Credo, the Credo with the fugue, without 
a thought of the meal that stood waiting on the hearth; while the 
maids, yielding to nature, had at last fallen asleep. When the mas- 
ter, between twelve and one, demanded something to eat, he 
found the maids asleep, the food burnt and dried up. He had burst 
into the most violent rage, sparing the nightly rest of the house 
the less because he himself could not hear the noise he made. 
“Could you not watch one hour with me?” he kept thundering. 
But it had been five or six hours, and the outraged maidservants 
had fled at dawn, leaving such an ill-tempered master to himself, 
so that he had had no midday meal either — nothing at all since 
the middle-day before. Instead he worked in his room on the 
■Credo, the Credo with the fugue — the young ones heard him 
through the closed door. The deaf man sang, he yelled and 
stomped above the Credo — it was so moving and terrifying that 
the blood froze in their veins as they listened. But as in their 
great concern they were about to retreat, the door was jerked 
open and Beethoven stood there — in what guise? The very most 
frightful! With clothing dishevelled, his features so distorted as 
to strike terror to the beholders; the eyes dazed, absent, listening, 
■all at once; he had stared at them, they got the impression that he 
had come out of a life-and-death struggle with all the opposing 
hosts of counterpoint. He had stammered something unintelligi- 
ble, and theft burst out complaining and scolding at the fine kind 
of housekeeping he had, and how everybody had run away and 
left him to starve. They had tried to pacify him, one of them 
helped turn to put his clothing to rights, the other ran to the inn 
to get him some solid food. . . . Only, three years later was the 
Mass finished. 

Thus Kretschmar, on “Beethoven and the Fugue”; and cer- 
toinly it gave us matter for talk on the way home - ground too 
for being silent together and for vague and silent reflection upon 


the new, the far,, and the great, which sometimes glibly running 
on, sometimes appallingly impeded, had penetrated into our souls. 
I say into ours, but it is of course only Adrian’s that I have in 
mind. What I heard, what I took in, is quite irrelevant. 

What principally impressed him, as I heard while we were 
walking home, and also next day in the school courtyard, was 
Kretscnmar’s distinction between cult epochs and cultural epochs, 
and his remark that the secularization of art, its separation from 
divine service, bore only a superficial and episodic character. The 
pupil of the upper school appeared to be struck by the thought, 
which the lecturer had not expressed at all but pad kindled in 
him, that the separation of art from the liturgical whole, its lib- 
eration and elevation intb the individual and culturally self- 
purposive, had laden it with an irrelevant solemnity, an absolute 
seriousness, a pathos of suffering, which was imaged in Beetho- 
ven’s frightful apparition in the doorway, and which did not heed 
to be its abiding destiny, its permanent intellectual constitution. 
Hearken to the youth! Still almost without any real or practical 
experience in the field of art, he speculated in the void and in pre- 
cocious language on the probably imminent retreat froth its pres- 
ent role to a more modest, happier one in the service of a higher 
union, which did not need to be, as it once was, the Church. What 
it Would be he could not say. But that the cultural idea was a 
historically transitory phenomenon, that it could lose itself again 
in another one, that the future did not inevitably belong to it, this 
thought he had certainly singled out from Kretschmar’s lecture, 

“But the alternative,” I threw in, “to culture is barbarism.” 

“Permit me,” said he. “After all, barbarism is the opposite of 
culture only within the order of thought which it gives us. Out- 
side of it the opposite may be something quite different or no op- 
posite at all.” 

I imitated Luca Cimabue, saying: “Santa Maria!” and crossing 
myself. He gave his short laugh. Another time he asserted: 

“For a cultural epoch, there seems to me to be a spot too much 
talk about culture in ours, don’t you think? I’d like to know 
whether epochs that possessed culture knew the word at all, or 
used it. Na'ivete, unconsciousness, taken-for-grantedness, seems to 
me to be the first criterion of the constitution to which we give 
this name. What we are losing is just this naivete, and this lack, 
if one may so speak of it, protects us from many a colourful bar- 
barism which altogether perfectly agreed, with culture, even, with 
very high culture, I mean: our stage is that of civilization — a very 
praiseworthy state no doubt, but also neither was there any doubt 


6 o 

that we should have to become very much more barbaric to be 
capable of culture again. Technique and comfort — m that state 
one talks about culture but one has not got it. Will you prevent 
me from seeing m the homophone-melodic constitution of our 
music a condition of musical civilization — in contrast to the old 
contrapuntal poly phone culture?” 

In such talk, with which he teased and irritated me, there was 
much that was merely imitative. But he had a way of adapting 
what he picked up and giving it a personal character which took 
from his adaptations anything that might sound ridiculous, if not 
everything boyish and derivative. He commented a good deal too 
— or we commented in lively exchange — on a lecture of Kretsch- 
mar’s called “Music and the Eye” — likewise an offering which 
deserved a larger audience. As the title Indicates, our lecturer 
spoke of his art in so far as — or rather, also as — it appeals to the 
sense of sight, which, so he developed his theme, it does in that 
one puts it down, through the notation, the tonal writing which— 
since the days of the old neumes, those arrangements of strokes 
and points, which had more or less indicated the flow of sound — 
had been practised with growing care and pains. His‘ demonstra- 
tion became very diverting, and likewise flattering, since it as- 
sumed in us a certain apprentice and brush-washer intimacy with 
music. Many a turn of phrase in musician’s jargon came not from 
the acoustic but the visual, the note-picture: for instance, one 
speaks of occhtali because the broken drum-basses, half-notes that 
are coupled by a stroke through their necks, look like a pair of 
spectacles; or as one calls “cobbler’s patches” (r os alia) certain 
cheap sequences one after another in stages at like intervals (he 
wrote examples for us on the blackboard). He spoke of the mere 
appearance of musical notation, and assured us that a knowledge- 
able person could get from one look at the notation a decisive im- 
pression of the spirit and value of a composition. Thus it had 
once happened to him that a colleague, visiting his room where 
an uninspired work submitted to him by a dilettante was spread 
out on the desk, had shouted: “Well, for heaven’s sake, what 
sort of tripe is that you’ve got there*” On the other hand he 
sketched for us the enchanting pleasure which even the visual 
picture of a score by Mozart afforded to the practised eye; the 
clarity of the texture, the beautiful disposition of the instrumen- 
ts jpoups, the ingenious and varied writing of the melodic line. 
A deaf man, he cried, quite ignorant of sound, could not but de- 
light in these gracious visions. “To hear with eyes belongs to 
0Ve S ® ne he quoted from a Shakesiieare sonnet, and as- 


serted that in all time composers had secretly nested in their writ- 
ings things that were meant more for the reading eye than for 
the ear. When, for instance, the Dutch masters of polyphony in 
their endless devices for the crossing of parts had so arranged 
them contrapuntally that one part had been like another when 
read backwards, that could not be perceived by the way they ac- 
tually sounded, and he would wager that very few people would 
have detected the trick by ear, for it was intended rather for the 
eye of the guild. Thus Orlandus Lassus in the Marriage at Cana 
used six voices to represent the six water-jugs, which could be 
better perceived by seeing the music than by hearing it; and in 
the St. John Passion by Joachim von Burck “one of the servants,” 
who gave Jesus a slap in the face, has only one note, but on the 
“ziveen” (two) in the next phrase, “with him two others,” there 
are two. 

He produced several such Pythagorean jests, intended more for 
the eye than the ear, which music had now and again been pleased 
to make and came out roundly with the statement that in the last 
analysis he ascribed to the art a certain inborn lack of the sensu- 
ous, yes an anti-sensuality, a sacret tendency to asceticism. Music 
was actually the most intellectual of all the arts, as was evident 
from the fact that in it, as in no other, form and content are inter- 
woven and absolutely one and the same. We say of course that 
music “addresses itself to the ear”; but it does so only in a quali- 
fied way, only in so far, namely, as the hearing, like the other 
senses, is the deputy, the instrument, and the receiver of the mind. 
Perhaps, said Kretschmar, it was music’s deepest wish not to be 
heard at aU, nor even seen, nor yet felt; but only — if that were 
possible — in some Beyond, the other side of sense and sentiment, 
to be perceived and contemplated as pure mind, pure spirit. But 
bound as she was to the world of sense, music must ever strive 
after the strongest, yes, the most seductive sensuous realization: 
she is a Kundry, who wills not what she does and flings soft arms 
of lust round the neck of the fool. Her most powerful realization 
for the senses she finds in orchestral music, where through the ear 
she seems to affect all the senses with her opiate wand and t» 
mingle the pleasures of the realm of sound with those of colour 
and scent. Here, rightly, she was the penitent in the garb of the 
seductress. But there was an instrument —that is to say, a musical 
means of realization — through which music, while becoming 
audible to the sense of hearing, did so in a half-unsensuous, an 
almost abstract way, audible, that is, in a way peculiarly suited to 
its intellectual nature. He meant the piano, an instrument that is 



not an instrument at all in the sense of the others, since all spe- 
cialization is foreign to it. It can, indeed, like them, be used in a 
solo performance and as a medium of virtuosity; but that is the 
exceptional case and speaking very precisely a misuse. The piano, 
properly speaking, is the direct and sovereign representative of 
music itself in its intellectuality, and for that reason one must 
learn it. But piano lessons should not be — or not essentially and 
not first and last — lessons in a special ability, but lessons m m-m — 

“Music!” cried a voice from the tiny audience, for the speaker 
could simply not get the word out, often as he had used it before, 
but kept on mumbling the m. 

“Yes, of course,” said he, released and relieved. Took a swallow 
of water and went his way. 

But perhaps I may be pardoned for letting him appear once 
more. For I am concerned with a fourth lecture which he gave 
us, and I would have left out one of the others if necessary, rather 
than this, since no other — not to speak of myself — made such a 
deep impression on Adrian. 

I cannot recollect its exact title. It was “The Elemental in Mu- 
sic” or “Music and the Elemental” or “The Elements of Music” 
or something like that. In any case the elemental, the primitive, 
the primeval beginning, played the chief role in it, as well as the 
idea that among all the arts it was precisely music that — whatever 
the richly complicated and finely developed and marvellous struc- 
ture she had developed into in the course of the centuries — had 
never got rid of a religious attitude towards her own beginnings; 
a pious proneness to call them up in solemn invocation — in short, 
to celebrate her elements. She thus celebrates, he said, her cosmic 
aptitude for allegory; for those elements were, as it were, the first 
and simplest materials of the world, a parallelism of which a phi- 
losophizing artist of a day not long gone by— it was Wagner 
again of whoin he spoke — had shrewdly, perhaps with somewhat 
tpo mechanical, too ingenious cleverness, made use, in that in 
his cosmogonic myth of the Ring he made the basic elements of 
music one with those of the world. To him the beginning of all 
things had its music: the music of the beginning was that, and 
also the beginning of music, the E-flat major triad of the flowing 
depths of the Rhine, the seven primitive chords, out of which, as 
though out of blocks of Cyclopean masonry, primeval stone, the 
“Gotterburg” arose. Surpassingly brilliant, in the grand style, he 
presented the mythology of music at the same time with that of 
the' world; in that he bound the music to the things and made 
them express themselves in music, he created an apparatus of sen- 



suous simultaneity — most magnificent and heavy with meaning, 
if a bit too clever after all, in comparison with certain revelations 
of the elemental in the art of the pure musicians, Beethoven and 
Bach; for example, in the prelude to the cello suite of the latter — 
also an E-flat major piece, built up in primitive triads. And he 
spoke of Anton Bruckner, who loved to refresh himself at the or- 
gan or piano by the simple succession of triads. “Is there anything 
more heartfelt, more glorious,” he would cry, “than such a pro- 
gression of mere triads? Is it not like a purifying bath for the 
mind 5 ” This saying too, Kretschmar thought, was a piece of evi- 
dence worth thinking about, for the tendency of music to plunge 
back into the elemental and admire herself in her primitive be- 

Yes, the lecturer cried, it lay in the very nature of this singular 
art that it was at any moment capable of beginning at the begin- 
ning, of discovering itself afresh out of nothing, bare of all knowl- 
edge of its past cultural history, and of creating anew. It would 
then run through the same primitive stages as in its historical be- 
ginnings and could on one short course, apart from the main mas- 
sif of its development, alone and unheeded by the world, reach 
most extraordinary and singular heights. And now he told us a 
story which in the most fantastic and suggestive way fitted into 
the frame of his present theme. 

At about the middle of the eighteenth century there had flour- 
ished in his native home in Pennsylvania a German community of 
pious folk belonging to the Baptist sect. Their leading and spir- 
itually most respected members lived celibate lives and had there- 
fore been honoured with the name of Solitary Brethren and Sis- 
ters; but the majority of them reconciled with the married state 
an exemplarily pure and godly manner of life, strictly regulated, 
hard-working and dietetically sound, full of sacrifice and self- 
discipline. Their settlements had been two: one called Ephrata, in 
Lancaster County, the other in Franklin County, called Snow- 
hill; and they had all looked up reverently to their head shepherd 
and spiritual father, the founder of the sect, a man named Beissel, 
in whose character fervent devotion to God mingled with the 
qualifies of leadership, and fanatic religiosity with a lively and 
blunt-spoken energy. 

Johann Conrad Beissel had been bom of very poor parents at 
Eberbach in the Palatinate and early orphaned. He had learned 
the baker’s trade and as a roving journeyman had made connec- 
tions with Pietists and devotees of the Baptist confession, which 
had awakened in him slumbering inclinations towards an explicit 



service of the truth and a freely arising conviction of God. AD 
this had brought him dangerously near to a sphere regarded in his 
country as heretical, and the thirty-year-old man decided to flee 
from the intolerance of the Old World and emigrate to America. 
There, in various places, in Germantown and Conestoga, he 
worked for a while as a weaver. Then a fresh impulse of religious 
devotion came over him and he had followed his inward voice, 
leading as a hermit m the wilderness an entirely solitary and 
meagre life, fixed only upon God. But as it w ill happen that flight 
from mankind sometimes only involves the more with humanity 
the man who flees, so Beissel had soon seen himself surrounded by 
a troop of admiring followers and imitators of his way of life, and 
instead of being free of the world, he had unexpectedly become, 
in the turning of a hand, the head of a community, which quickly 
developed into an independent sect, the Seventh-Day Anabaptists. 
He commanded them the more absolutely in that, so far as he 
knew, he had never sought the leadership, but was rather called 
to it against his intention and desire. 

Beissel had never enjoyed any education worth mentioning; but 
in. his awakened state he had mastered by himself the skills of? 
reading and writing, and as his mind surged like the sea, tumultu- 
ous with mystical feelings and ideas, the result was that he filled 
his office chiefly as writer and poet and fed the souls of his flock: ! 
a stream of didactic prose and religious songs poured from his pen 
to the edification of the brethren in their silent hours and to the 1 
enrichment of their services. His style was high-flown and cryp- 
tic, laden with metaphor, obscure Scriptural allusions, and a sort; 
of erotic symbolism. A tract on the Sabbath, Mystyrion Anomar 
lias, and a collection of ninety-nine Mystical and Very Secret 
Saymgs were the beginning. A series of hymns followed on, 
which were to be sung to well-known European choral melodies, 
and appeared in print under such titles as Songs for God’s Love 
and Praise, Jacob’s Place of Struggle and Elevation, Zionist Hill 
of Incense. It was these little collections that a few years later, 
enlarged and improved, became the official song-book of the Sev- 
enth-Day Baptists of Ephrata, with the sweetly mournful title 
“Song of the Lonely and Forsaken Turde Dove, the Christian 
Church.” Printed and reprinted, further enriched by the emula- 
tive members of the sect, single and married, men and even more 
women, the standard work changed its title and also appeared 
-once as Miracle Play in Paradise. It finally contained not less than 
seven hundred and seventy hymns, among them some with an 
enormous number of stanzas, 


The songs were meant to be sung, but they lacked music. They 
were new texts to old tunes and were so used for years by the 
community. But now a new inspiration visited Johann Conrad 
Beissel. The spirit commanded him to take to himself in addition 
to the role of poet and prophet that of composer. 

There had been a young man staying at Ephrata, a young adept 
of the art of music, who held a singing-class; Beissel loved to at- 
tend and listen to the instruction. He must thus have made the 
discovery that music afforded possibilities for the extension and 
realization of the kingdom of the spirit, in a way of which young 
Herr Ludwig never dreamed. The extraordinary man’s resolve 
was swiftly formed. No longer of the youngest, already far on in 
the fifties, he applied himself to work out a musical theory of 
his own, suited to his special requirements. He put the singing- 
teacher aside and took things firmly in his own hands —with such 
success that before long he had made music the most important 
element in the religious life of the community. 

Most of the chorals, which had come o^er from Europe, seemed 
to him much too forced, complicated, and artificial to serve for 
his flock. He wanted to do something new and better and to in- 
augurate a music better answering to the simplicity of their souls 
and enabling them by practice to bring it to their own simple per- 
fection. An ingenious and practical theory of melody was swiftly 
and boldly resolved on. He decreed that there should be “masters” 
and, “servants” in every scale. Having decided to regard the com- 
mon chord as the melodic centre of any given key, he called 
“masters” the notes belonging to this chord, and the rest of the 
scale “servants:” And those syllables of a text upon which the ac- 
cent lay had always to be presented by a “master,” the unac- 
cented by a “servant.” 

As for the harmony, he made use of a summary procedure. He 
made chord-tables for all possible keys, with the help of which 
anybody could write out his tunes comfortably enough, in four 
or five parts; and thus he caused a perfect rage for composition 
In the community. Soon there was no longer a single Seventh- 
P a 7 Baptist, whether male or female, who, thus assisted, had not 
imitated the master and composed music. 

Rhythm was now the part of theory which remained to be 
dealt with by this redoubtable man. He accomplished it with con- 
summate success. He painstakingly followed with the music the 
cadence of the words, simply by providing the accented syllables 
with longer notes, and giving the unaccented shorter ones. To es- 
tablish a fixed relation between the values of the notes did not 


Sabbath, had once ridden over as an onlooker at the house of wor- 
ship of those pious folk. After that he had gone again and again: 
every Friday, as the sun set, driven by a resistless urge, he had 
saddled his horse and ridden the three miles to listen. It had been 
quite indescribable, not to be compared with anything in this 
world. He had, so the elder Kretschmar had said, sat in English, 
French, and Italian opera houses; that had been music for the ear, 
but Beissel’s rang deep down into the soul and was nothing more 
nor less than a foretaste of heaven. 

“A great art,” so our reporter said in closing, “which, as it were 
aloof from time and time’s great course, could develop a little pri- 
vate history of this kind, and by forgotten side-paths lead to such 
exceptional beautitudes.” 

I recall as though it were yesterday how I went home with 
Adrian after this lecture. Although we did not talk much, we 
were unwilling to separate; and from his uncle’s house, whither 
I accompanied him, he went back with me to the shop, and then 
f back with him to Parochialstrasse. Though of course we often 
did that. We both made merry over the man Beissel, this back- 
woods dictator with his droll thirst for action, and agreed that his 
music reform reminded us very much of. the passage in Terence: 
“to behave stupidly with reason.” But Adrian’s attitude to the 
curious phenomenon differed from mine in what was after all so 
distinctive a way that it soon occupied me more than the subject 
itself. I mean that even while he mocked he set store by preserv- 
ing the right to appreciate: set store by the right, not to say the 
privilege of keeping a distance, which includes in itself the pos- 
sibility of good-natured acceptance, of conditioned agreement, 
half-admiration, along with the mockery and laughter. Quite gen- 
erally this claim to ironic remoteness, to an objectivity which 
surely is paying less honour to the thing than to the freedom of 
the person, has always seemed to me a sign of uncommon arro- 
gance. In so young a person as Adrian then was, the presumption 
of this attitude, it must be admitted, is disquieting; it was calcu- 
lated to cause one concern for the health of his soul. Of course 
it is also very impressive to a companion with a simpler mental 
constitution, and since I loved him, I loved his arrogance as well 
— perhaps I loved him for its sake. Yes, that is how it was: t his 
arrogance was the chief motive of the fearful love which aU my 
life I cherished for him in my heart. 

“Leave me alone,” said he, as with our hands in our overcoat 
pockets we went to and fro between our two dwellings, in the 
wintry mist that wrapped the gas-lamps, “leave me in peace with 



my old codger, I can do with him. At least he had a sense of or- 
der, and even a silly order is better than none at all.” 

“Surely,” I answered him, “you won’t defend such a ridiculous 
and dogmatic arrangement, such childish rationalism as this in- 
vention of masters and servants. Imagine how these Beissel hymns 
must have sounded, in which every accented syllable had to have 
one note of the chord fall on it!” 

“In any case not sentimental,” he responded, “rather rigidly 
conforming to the law, and that I approve. You can console your- 
self that there was plenty of play for the fancy you put high 
above the law, in the free use of the servant notes.” 

He had to laugh at the word, bent over as he walked, and 
laughed down upon the wet pavement. 

“Funny, it’s very funny,” he said. “But one thing you will ad- 
mit, Law, every law, has a chilling effect, and music has so much 
warmth anyhow, stable warmth, cow warmth, I’d like to say, that 
she can stand all sorts of regulated cooling off — she has even 
asked for it.” 

“There may be some truth in that,” I admitted. “But our Beis- 
sel isn’t after all any very striking example of it. You forget that 
his rhythm, quite unregulated and abandoned to feeling, at least 
balanced the rigidity of his melody. And then he invented a sing- 
ing style for himself — up to the ceiling and then floating down, 
in a seraphic falsetto — it must have been simply ravishing and 
certainly gave back to music all the bovine warmth that it had. 
previously taken away through the pedantic cooling off.” 

“AsCetic, Kretschmar would say,” he answered, “the ascetic 
cooling, off. In that Father Beissel was very genuine. Music al- 
ways ffoes penance in advance for her retreat into the sensual. 
The old Dutchmen made her do the rummest sort of tricks, to 
the glory of God; and it went harder and harder on her from all 
one hears, with no sense appeal, excogitated by pure calculation. 
But then they had these penitential practices sung, delivered over 
to the sounding breath of the human voice, which is certainly the 
most stable-warm imaginable thing in the world of sound. . . .” 

“You think so?” 

“Why not? No unorganic instrumental sound can be compared 
with it. Abstract it may be, the human voice — the abstract human 
being, if you like. But that is a kind of abstraction more like that 
of the naked body — it is after all more a pudendum.” I was si- 
lent, confounded. My thoughts took me far back in our, in his 

There you have it,” said he, “your music.” I was annoyed at 



the way he put it, it sounded like shoving music off on me, as 
though it were more my affair than his. “There you have the 
whole thing , she was always like that. Her strictness, or whatever 
you like to call the moralism of her form, must stand for an ex- 
cuse for the ravishments of her actual sounds.” 

For a moment I felt myself the older, more mature. 

“A gift of life like music,” I responded, “not to say a gift of 
God, one ought not to explain by mocking antinomies, which 
only bear witness to the fullness of her nature. One must love 

“Do you consider love the strongest emotion?” he asked. 

“Do you know a stronger?” 

“Yes, interest.” 

“By which you presumably mean a love from which the animal 
warmth has been withdrawn.” 

“Let us agree on the definition'” he laughed. “Good night!” 

We had got back to the Leverkuhn house, and he opened his 


I will not look back, I will take care not to count the pages I 
have covered between the last Roman numeral and this one I 
have just written down. The evil — in any case quite unantici- 
pated — has come to pass and it would be useless to expend myself 
in excuses or self-accusations. The question whether I might and 
should have avoided it by giving a chapter to each one of Kretsch- 
mar’s lectures I must answer in the negative. Each separate divi- , 
sion of a work needs a certain body, a definite volume sufficient 
to add to the significance of the whole, and this weight, this vol- 
ume of significance, pertains to the lectures only collectively (in 
so far as I have reported them) and not to the single ones. 

But why do I ascribe such significance to them? Why have I 
seen myself induced to reproduce them in such detail? I give the 
reason, not for the first time. It is simply this: that Adrian heard 
these things then, they challenged his intelligence, made their 
deposit in the vessel of his feelings, and gave matter to feed or to 
stimulate his fancy. And for the fancy, food and stimulant are one 
and the same. The reader must perforce be made a witness of the 
process; since no biography, no depiction of the growth and de- 
velopment of an intellectual life, could properly be written with- 
out taking its subject back to the pupil stage, to the period of his 
beginnings in life and art, when he listened, learned, divined, 
gazed and ranged now afar, now close at hand. As for music in 
particular, what I want and strive to do is to make the reader see 
it as Adrian did; to bring him in touch with music, precisely as 
it happened to my departed friend. And to that end everything 
his teacher said seems to me not only not a negligible means but 
even an indispensable one. 

And so, half jestingly, I would address those who in that last 
monstrous chapter have been guilty of some skipping: I would 
remind them of how Laurence Sterne once dealt with an imagi- 
nary .listener who betrayed that she had not always been paying 
attention. The author sent her back to an earlier chapter to fill in 



the gaps in her knowledge. After having informed herself, the 
lady rejoins the group of listeners and is given a hearty welcome. 

The passage came to my mind because Adrian as a top-form 
student, at a time when I had already left for the University of 
Giessen, studied English outside the school courses, and after all 
outside the humanistic curriculum, under the influence of Wen- 
dell Kretschmar. He read Sterne with great pleasure. Even more 
enthusiastically he read Shakespeare, of whom the organist was a 
close student and passionate admirer. Shakespeare and Beethoven 
together formed in Kretschmar’s intellectual heaven a twin con- 
stellation outshining all else, and he dearly loved calling his pupil’s 
attention to remarkable similarities and correspondences in the 
creative principles and methods of the two giants — an instance of 
the stutterer’s far-reaching influence on my friend’s education, 
quite aside from the piano lessons. As a music-teacher, of course, 
he had to give Adrian the childish beginnings; but on the other 
hand, and in strange contrast, he gave him at the same time and 
almost in passing ms earliest contact with greatness. He opened to 
him the ample page of world literature; whetting his appetite by 
small foretastes, he lured him into the broad expanses of the Rus- 
sian, English, and French novel; stimulated him to read the lyri- 
cal poems of Shelley and Keats, Holderlin and Novalis; gave 
him Manzoni and Goethe, Schopenhauer and Meister Eckehart 
Through Adrian’s letters, as well as by word of mouth when I 
came home in the holidays, I shared in these conquests, and I will 
not deny that sometimes, despite my knowledge of his facility, I 
was concerned for his strength. After all, these acquirements were 
premature, they must have burdened his young system, in addi- 
tion to the preparations for his finals. About the latter, indeed, he 
spoke contemptuously. He often looked pale, and that not only 
on days when the hereditary migraine laid him low. Obviously he 
had too little sleep, for his reading was done in the night hours. 
I did not refrain from confessing my concern to Kretschmar and 
asking him if he did not see in Adrian, as I did, a nature that in 
the intellectual field should rather be held back than urged for- 
wards. But the musician, although so much older than I, proved 
to be a thoroughgoing partisan of impatient youth avid of knowl- 
edge, unsparing of his strength. Indeed, the man showed in gen- 
eral a certain ideal harshness and indifference to the body and its 
“health,” which he considered a right philistine, not to say cow- 
ardly value. 

“Yes, my dear friend,” said he (I omit the hitches which de- 
tracted from his impressiveness) , “if it is healthiness you are after 



— well, with mind and art it has not got much to do, it even in a 
sort of way opposes them, and anyhow they have never troubled 
much about each other. To play the family doctor who warns 
against premature reading because it was always prematme to 
him all his life — I’m no good for that. And besides, I find nothing 
more tactless and barbarous than nailing a gifted youth down to 
his ‘immaturity’ and telling him in every other word: ‘That is 
nothing for you yet.’ Let him judge for himself! Let him see how 
he comes on! That the time will be long to him till he can crawl 
out of the shell of this sleepy old place is only too easy to under- 

So there I had it - and Kaisersaschern too. I was vexed, for the 
standards of the family doctor were certainly not mine either. 
And besides that, I saw not only that Kretschmar was not con- 
tent to be a piano-teacher and trainer in a special technique, but 
that music itself, the goal of his teaching, if it were pursued 
one-sidedly and without connection with other fields of form, 
thought, and culture, seemed to him a stunting specialization, hu- 
manly speaking. As a matter of fact, from all that I heard from 
Adrian, the lesson-hours in Kretschmar’s mediaeval quarters in 
the Cathedral were a good half of the time taken up with talks on 
philosophy and poetry. Despite that, so long as I was still in school 
with him, I could follow his progress literally from day to day. 
His self-won familiarity with keyboard and keys accelerated of 
course the first steps. He practised conscientiously, but a lesson- 
hook, so far as I know, was not used; instead Kretsch m ar simply 
let him play set chorals and — however strange they sounded on 
the piano — four-part psalms by Palestrina consisting of pure 
chords with some harmonic tensions and cadenzas; then some- 
what later little preludes and fuguettes of Bach, two-part inven- 
tions also by him, the Sonata Facile of Mozart, one-movement so- 
natas by Scarlatti. Kretschmar did not hesitate to writs little pieces 
himself, marches and dances, partly for playing solo, partly as 
duets in which the musical burden lay in the second part, while 
the first, for the pupil, was kept quite simple so that he had the 
satisfaction of sharing in the performance of a production which 
as a whole moved on a higher plane of technical competence than 
his own. 

AH in all it was a little like the education of a young prince. 
I remember that I used the word teasingly in taSs. with my friend; 
remember too how he turned away with the odd short laugh pe- 
culiar to him, as though he would have pretended not to hear. 
No doubt he was grateful to his teacher for a kind of instruction 



taking cognizance of the pupil’s general mental development, 
which did not belong at the childish stage of his present and 
rather tardy musical beginnings. Kretschmar was not unwilling, 
in fact he rather preferred, to have this youth, plainly vibrating 
with ability, hurry on ahead in music too and concern himself 
with matters that a more pedantic mentor would have forbidden 
as time- wasting. For Adrian scarcely knew the notes when he be- 
gan to write and experiment with chords on paper. The mama he 
then developed of thinking out musical problems, which he solved 
like chess problems, might make one fear lest he thought this con- 
triving and mastering of technical difficulties was already com- 
position. He spent hours in linking up, in the smallest possible 
space, chords that together contained all the notes of the chro- 
matic scale, without their being chromatically side-slipped and 
without producing harshnesses in their progression. Or he amused 
himself by writing very sharp dissonances and finding all possible 
resolutions for them, which, however, just because the chord con- 
tained so many discordant notes, had nothing to do with each 
other, so that that acid chord, like a magic formula, created rela- 
tions between the remotest chords and keys. 

One day the beginner in the theory of harmony brought to 
Kretschmar, to the latter’s amusement, the discovery he had him- 
self made of double counterpoint. That is, he gave to his teacher 
to read two parts running simultaneously, each of which could 
form the upper or the lower part and thus were interchangeable, 
“If you have got the triple counterpoint,” said Kretschmar, “keep 
it to yourself. I don’t want to hear about your rashness.” 

He kept much to himself, sharing his speculations with me only 
in moments of relaxation, and then especially his absorption in 
the problem of unity, interchangeability, identity of horizontal 
and vertical writing. He soon possessed what was in my eyes an 
uncanny knack of inventing melodic lines which could be set 
against each other simultaneously, and whose notes telescoped into 
complex harmonies — and, on the other hand, he invented chords 
consisting of note-clusters that were to be projected into the 
melodic horizontal. 

In the schoolyard, between a Greek and a trigonometry class, 
leaning on the ledge of the glazed brick wall, he would talk to me 
about these magic diversions of his idle time: of the transforma- 
tion of the horizontal interval into the chord, which occupied 
him as nothing else did; that is, of the horizontal into the vertical, 
ffie successive into the simultaneous. Simultaneity, he asserted, was 
here die primary element; for the note, with its more immedj#?' 1 



and more distant harmonics, was a chord in itself, and the scale 
only the analytical unfolding of the chord into the horizontal row. 

“But with the real chord, consisting of several notes, it is after 
all something different. A chord is meant to be followed up by 
another, and so soon as you do it, carry it over into another, each 
one of its component notes becomes a voice-part. I find that in a 
chordal combination of notes one should never see anything but 
the result of the movement of voices and do honour to the part 
as implied in the single chord-note — but not honour the chord 
as such, rather despise it as subjective and arbitrary, so long as it 
cannot prove itself to be the result of part-writing. The chord is 
no h a rmonic narcotic but polyphony in itself, and the notes that 
form it are parts. But I assert they are that the more, and the poly- 
phonic character of the chords is the more pronounced, the more 
dissonant it is. The degree of dissonance is the measure of its 
polyphonic value. The more discordant a chord is, the more notes 
it contains contrasting and conflicting with each other, the more 
polyphonic it is, and the more markedly every single note bears 
the stamp of the part already in the simultaneous sound-combina- 

I looked at him for some time, nodding my head with half- 
humorous fatalism. 

“Pretty good! You’re a wonder!” said I, finally. 

“You mean that for me?” he said, turning away as he so often 
did. “But I am talking about music, not about myself —some little 

He insisted upon this distinction, speaking of music always as 
a strange power, a phenomenon amazing but not touching him 
personally, talking about it with critical detachment and a certain 
condescension; but he talked about it, and had more to say, be- 
cause in these years, the last I spent with him at school, and my 
first semesters as university student, his knowledge of the world’s 
musical literature rapidly broadened, so that soon, indeed, the dif- 
ference between what he knew and what he could do lent to the 
distinction he emphasized a sort of strikingness. For while as pian- 
ist he was practising such things as Schumann’s Kinderscenen and 
the two little sonatas of Beethoven, Opus 45, and as a music pupil 
dutifully harmonizing choral themes so that the theme came to 
lie in the centre of the chord; he was at the same time, and with 
an excessive, even headlong acceleration of pace, gaming a com- 
prehensive view, incoherent indeed, but with extensive detail, of 
preclassic, classic, romantic, late-romantic, and modem produc- 
tion, all this of course through Kretschmar, who was himself too 



much in love with everything — just everything— made of notes 
not to bum to introduce to a pupil who knew how to listen as 
Adrian did this world of shapes and figures, inexhaustibly rich in 
styles, national characteristics, traditional values, and charms of 
personality, historic and individual variations of the ideal beauty. 

I need scarcely say that opportunities to listen to music were, for 
a citizen of Kaisersaschem, extraordinarily few. Aside from the 
evenings of chamber music at Nikolaus Leverkiihn’s and the or- 
gan concerts in the Cathedral we had almost no opportunity at 
all, for seldom indeed would a touring virtuoso or an orchestra 
with its conductor from some other city penetrate into our little 
town. Now Kretschmar had flung himself into the breach, and 
with his vivid recitals had fed, if only temporarily and by sug- 
gestion, a partly unconscious, partly unconfessed yearning of my 
young friend for culture. Indeed, the stream was so copious that 
I might almost speak of a cataract of musical experience flooding 
his youthful receptivity. After that came years of disavowal and 
dissimulation, when he had far less music than at the time I speak 
of, although the circumstances were much more favourable. 

It began, very naturally, with the teacher demonstrating for 
him the structure of the sonata in works by Clementi, Mozart, 
and Haydn. But before long he went on to the orchestra sonata, 
the symphony, and performed (in the piano-abstraction) to the 
watching listener sitting with drawn brows and parted lips the 
various chronological and personal variations of this richest mani- 
festation of creative musical art, speaking most variedly to senses 
and mind. He played instrumental worn by Brahms and Bruck- 
ner, Schubert, Robert Schumann; then by the later and the latest, 
Tchaikovsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov; by Anton DvoMk, 
Berlioz, Cesar Franck, and Chabrier, constantly challenging his 
pupil’s power of imagination with loud explanations, to give or- 
chestral body and soul to the insubstantial piano version: “Cello 
cantilena! You must think of that as drawn out. Bassoon solo! 
And the flutes give the flourishes to it! Drum-roll! There are the 
trombones! Here the violins come in! Follow it on the score! I 
have to leave out the little fanfare with the trumpets, I have only 
two hands!” 

He did what he could with those two hands, often adding his 
voice, which crowed and cracked, but never badly; no, it was all 
even ravishing, by reason of its fervid musicality and enthusiasdc 
rightness of expression. 

Dashing from one thing to another, or linking them together, 
he heaped them up — first because he had endless things in his 


7 6 

head, and one thing led on to the next; but in particular because 
it was his passion to make comparisons and discover relations, dis- 
play infl uences, lay bare the interwoven connections of culture. 
It pleased him to sharpen his young pupil’s sense; hours on hours 
he spent showing him how French had influenced Russians, Ital- 
ians Germans, Germans French. He showed him what Gounod 
had from Schumann, what Cesar Franck from Liszt, how Debussy 
based on Mussorgsky and where D’Indy and Chabner wagner- 
ized. To show how sheer contemporaneity set up mutual relations 
between such different natures as Tchaikovsky and Brahms, that 
too belonged to these lesson-hours. He played him bits from the 
works of the one that might well be by the other. In Brahms, 
whom he put very high, he demonstrated the reference to the 
archaic, to old church modes, and how this ascetic element in 
him became the means of achieving a sombre richness and gloomy 
grandeur. He told his pupil to note how, in this kind of romanti- 
cism, with a noticeable reference to Bach, the polyphonic prin- 
ciple seriously confronted the harmonic colour and made it re- 
treat. But true independence of parts, true polyphony, that was 
not; and had already not been with Bach, in whom one does 
indeed find the contrapuntal devices peculiar to the vocal poly- 
phony of an older period, but who by blood had been a harmonist, 
and nothing else — already as the man to use the tempered scale, 
this premise for all the later art of modulation, and his harmonic 
counterpoint had at bottom no more to do with the old vocal po- 
lyphony than Handel’s harmonic alfresco style. 

It was precisely such remarks as these for which Adrian’s ear 
was so peculiarly keen. In conversations with me he went into it. 

“Bach’s problem,” he said, “was this: how is one to write preg- 
nant polyphony in a harmonic style? With the modems the ques- 
tion presents itself somewhat differently. Rather it is: how is one 
to write a harmonic style that has the appearance of polyphony 5 
Remarkable, it looks like bad conscience — the bad conscience of 
homophonic music in face of polyphony.” 

It goes without saying that by so much listening he was led to 
the enthusiastic reading of scores, partly from his teacher’s, partly 
from the town library. I often found him at such studies and at 
written instrumentation. For information about the compass of 
the individual orchestral instruments (instruction which the in- 
strument-dealer’s foster-son hardly needed) also flowed into the 
lessons, and Kretschmar had begun giving him to orchestrate 
short classical pieces, single piano movements from Schubert and 
Beethoven, also the piano accompaniments of songs: studies whose 



weaknesses and slips he then pointed out and corrected. This was 
the beginning of Adrian’s acquaintance with the glorious period 
of the German lied, which after fairly jejune beginnings bursts 
out wonderfully in Schubert, to celebrate its incomparable na- 
tional triumphs with Schumann, Robert Franz, Brahms, Hugo 
Wolf, and Mahler. A glorious conjunction! I was happy to be 
present and share all this. A jewel and miracle like Schumann’s 
Mondnacht, with the lovely, delicate seconds in the accompani- 
ment! Other Eichendorff compositions of the same master, like 
that piece invoking all the romantic perils and threats to the soul, 
which ends with the uncannily moral warning: “ Hute dich, sei 
isach und munter /” a masterly invention like Mendelssohn’s Auf 
Flugeln des Qesanges, the inspiration of a musician whom Adrian 
used to extol very highly to me, calling him the most gifted of all 
in his use of different metres — ah, what fruitful topics for dis- 
cussion! In Brahms as a song-writer my friend valued above all 
else the peculiarly new and austere style in the Four Serious Songs 
written for Bible texts, especially the religious beauty of “ O Tod, 
wie bitter bist DuP ’ But Schubert’s always twilit genius, death- 
touched, he liked above all to seek where he lifts to the loftiest ex- 
pression a certain only half-defined but inescapable destiny of 
solitude, as in the grandly self-tormenting “Ich komme vom Ge- 
birge her ” from the Smith of Liibeck and that “Was vermeid ’ ich 
denn die Wege, wo die andern Wandrer gehn?” from the Win- 
terreise, with the perfectly heart-breaking stanza beginning: 

Hah’ ja doch nichts begangen 

Dass ich Menschen sollte scheu’n. 

These words, and the following: 

Welch ein torichtes Verlangen 

Treibt mich in die Wiistenei’n? 

I have heard him speak to himself, indicating the musical phras- 
ing, and to my unforgettable amazement I saw the tears spring 
to his eyes. 

Of course his instrumental writing suffered from a lack of ex- 
perience through actual hearing and Kretschmar set himself to 
remedy the defect. In the Michaelmas and Christmas holidays 
they went (with Uncle Niko’s permission) to operas and concerts 
in near-by cities: Merseburg, Erfurt, even Weimar, in order that 
he might '.realize in actual sound what he had received in the ab- 
stract and seen at most on paper. Thus he could take in the child- 
like solemnity and esoteric mystery of The Magic Flute , the for- 



nudable charm of Figaro, the daemony of the low clarinets in 
Weber’s glorious transmuted operetta tier Freischntz; similar fig- 
ures of pamful and sombre solitude like those of Hans Heilmg 
and The Flying Dutchman; finally the lofty humanity and broth- 
erhood of Ftdelio, with the great Overture in C, played before 
the final scene. This last, of course, was the most impressive, the 
most absorbing, of all that his young receptive mind came in con- 
tact with. For days after that evening he kept the score of No. 3 
by him and read it constantly. 

“My friend,” said he, “probably they haven’t been waiting for 
me to say so; but that is a perfect piece of music. Classicism — 
yes, it isn’t sophisticated at all, but it is great. I don’t say: for it is 
great, because there is such a thing as sophisticated greatness; but 
this is at bottom much more intimate. Tell me, what do you think 
about greatness 5 I find there is something uncomfortable about 
facing it eye to eye, it is a test of courage — can one really look 
it in the eye? You can’t stand it, you give way. Let me tell you, 
I incline more and more to the admission that there is something 
very odd indeed about this music of yours. A manifestation of the 
highest energy — not at all abstract, but without an object, energy 
in a void, in pure ether — where else in the universe does such a 
thing appear? We Germans have taken over from philosophy the 
expression ‘in itself,’ we use it every day without much idea of 
the metaphysical. But here you have it, such music is energy it- 
self, yet not as idea, rather in its actuality. I call your attention 
to the fact that that is almost the definition of God. Imtatio Dei 

— lam surprised that it is not forbidden. Perhaps it is. Anyhow 
that is a very nice point — in more than one sense of the word. 
Look: the most powerful, most varied, most dramatic succession 
of events and activities, but only in time, consisting only of time 
articulated, filled up, organized — and all at once almost thrust 
into the concrete exigencies of the plot by the repeated trumpet- 
signals from without. All that is most elegantly and grandly con- 
ceived, kept witty and rather objective, even in the high spots — 
neither scintillating nor all too splendid, nor even very exciting in 
colour, only just masterly beyond words. How all that is brought 
in and transformed and put before you, how one theme is led up 
to and another left behind, taken apart; yet in the process some- 
thing new is getting ready, so that there & no empty or feeble 
passage; hoW flexibly the rhythm changes, a climax approaches, 
takes in tributaries from all sides, swells like a rising torrent, bursts 
out in roaring triumph, triumph itself, triumph ‘in and for itself 

— I do not lie to call it beautiful, the word ‘beauty’ has always 



been half offensive to me, it has such a silly face, and people feel 
wanton and corrupt when they say it. But it is good, good in 
the extreme, it could not be better, perhaps it ought not to be 
better. ...” 

Thus Adrian. It was a way of talking that in its mixture of in- 
tellectual self-criticism and slight feverishness affected me as in- 
describably moving. Moving because he felt the feverishness in it 
and found it offensive, was unpleasantly aware of the tremble in 
his still boyishly thin voice and turned away, flushing. 

A great advance in musical knowledge and enthusiastic partici- 
pation took place at that time in his life, only to get no further for 
years — at least to all appearance. 


During his last year at school, in the highest form, Leverkiihn in 
addition to everything else began the study of Hebrew, which 
was not obligatory and which I did not pursue. Thus he betrayed 
the direction of his plans for a profession: it “turned out” (I pur- 
posely repeat the expression I used to describe the moment when 
by a chance word he betrayed his religious inner life), it turned 
out that he intended to study theology. The approach of the final 
examinations demanded a decision, the election of a faculty, and 
he declared his choice: declared it in answer to his uncle, who 
raised his brows and said “Bravo!” — declared it of his own ac- 
cord to his parents at Buchel, who received the news even better 
pleased; and had already told me earlier, confessing at the same 
time that he did not envisage his choice as preparation for taking 
a parish and assuming a cure of souls, but as an academic career,' 
That should have been a kind of reassurance to me; indeed, it 
was that, for it went against me to imagine him as a candidate for 
the office of preacher or pastor, or even as councillor of the con- 
sistory or other high office. If only he had been a Catholic, as we , 
were! His easily imaginable progress up the stages of the hier- 
archy, to a prince of the Church, would have seemed to me a tap- 
pier, more fitting prospect. But the very resolve was itself some- 
thing of a shock and I think I changed colour when he told me. 
Why? I could hardly have said what he should else have chosen. 
Actually, to me there was nothing good enough for him; that is, 
the civilian, empirical side of any calling did not seem to me 
worthy of him, and I should have looked round in vain for an- 
other in the practical, professional performance of which I could 
properly imagine him. The ambition I cherished on his account 
was absolute. And yet a shudder went through me when I di- 
vined — divined very clearly — that he had made his choice out of 

We had on occasion agreed, of course, or more correctly we 
had both espoused the general view, that philosophy was the 
queen of the sciences. Among them, we had affirmed, she took a 



place like that of the organ among instruments: she afforded a 
survey; she combined them intellectually, she ordered and refined 
the issues of all the fields of research into a universal picture, an 
overriding and decisive synthesis comprehending the meaning of 
life, a scrutinizing determination of man’s place in the cosmos. My 
consideration of my friend’s future, my thoughts about a “profes- 
sion” for him, had always led me to similar conclusions. The 
many-sidedness of his activities, while they made me anxious for 
his health, his thirst for experience, accompanied as it was by a 
critical attitude, justified such dreams. The most universal field, 
the life of a masterly polyhistor and philosopher seemed to me 
just right for him — and further my powers of imagination had not 
brought me. Now I was to learn that he on his side had privately 
gone much further. Without giving a sign— for he expressed his 
decision in very quiet, unassuming words — he had outbid and put 
to shame the ambitions of his friend for him. 

But there is, if you like, a discipline in which Queen Philosophy 
becomes the servant, the ancillary science, academically speaking 
a subsidiary branch of another; and that other is theology. Where 
love of wisdom lifts itself to contemplation of the highest essence, 
the source of being, the study of God and the thmgs of God, 
there, one might say, is the peak of scientific dignity, the highest 
and noblest sphere of knowledge, the apex of all thinking; to the 
inspired intellect its most exalted goal is here set. The most ex- 
alted because here the profane sciences, for instance my own, 
philology, as well as history and the rest, become a mere tool for 
the service of knowledge of the divine — and again, the goal to be 
pursued in the profoundest humility, because in the words of the 
Scriptures it is “higher than all reason” and the human ^spirit 
thereby enters into a more pious, trusting bond than that which 
any other of the learned professions lays upon him. 

This went through my mind when Adrian told me of his deci- 
sion. If he had made it out of an instinct of spiritual self-discipline,, 
out of the wish to hedge in by a religious profession that cool and 
ubiquitous intellect of his, which grasped everything so easily and 
was so spoilt by its own superiority —then I should have agreed. 
It would not only have tranquillized my indefinite concern, al- 
ways present, albeit silently; and moreover it would have touched 
me deeply, for the sacrificium intellectus, which of necessity con- 
templation and knowledge of the other world carries with k, 
must be esteemed the more highly, the more powerful the intel- 
lect that makes it. But I did not at bottom believe in my friend’s 
humility. 1 believed in his pride, of which for my part I was proud 



too, and could not really doubt that it was the source of his deci- 
sion. Hence the mixture of joy and concern, the grounds of the 
shudder that went through me. 

He saw my conflict and seemed to ascribe it to a third person, 
his music-teacher. 

“You mean, of course, Kretschmar will be disappointed,” he 
said. “Naturally, I know he would have liked me to give myself 
to Polyhymnia. Strange, people always want you to follow the 
same path they do. One can’t please everybody. But I’ll remind 
him that through liturgy and her history music plays very 
strongly into the theological; more practically and artistically, in- 
deed, than into the mathematical and physical, or into acoustics.” 

In announcing his purpose of saying as much to Kretschmar, he 
was really, as I well knew, saying it to me; and when I was alone 
I thought of it again and again. Certainly, in relation to theology 
and the service of God, music — of course like all the arts, and 
also the secular sciences, but music in particular — took on an an- 
cillary, auxiliary character. The thought was associated in my 
mind with certain discussions which we had had on the destiny of 
art, on the one hand very conducive, but on the other- sadly ham- 
pering; we referred to her emancipation from cult, her cultural 
secularization. It was all quite clear to me: his choice had been 
influenced by his personal desire and his professional prospects, 
the wish to reduce music again to the position that once, in times 
he considered happier, she had held in the union of cults. Like the 
profane disciplines, so likewise music: he would see them all be- 
neath the sphere to which he would dedicate himself as adept. 
And I got a strange vision, a sort of allegory of his point of view; 
it was like a baroque painting, an enormous altarpiece, whereon 
all the arts and sciences in humble and votive posture paid their 
devotions to theology enthroned. 

Adrian laughed loudly at my vision when I told him about it. 
He was in high spirits at that time, much inclined to jest — and 
quite understandably. The moment of taking flight, when freedom 
dawns, when the school gate shuts behind us, the shell breaks, the 
chrysalis bursts, the world lies open — is it not the happiest, or the 
most exciting, certainly the most expectant in all our lives? 
Through his musical excursions with Wendell Kretschmar to the 
larger near-by cities, Adrian had tasted the outer world a few 
times; now Kaisersaschern, the place of witches and strangelings, 
of tiie instrument warehouse and the imperial tomb in the Cathe- 
dral, would finally loose its hold on him, and only on visits would 
jae walk its streets, smiling like one aware of other spheres. 


Was that true? Had Kaisersaschem ever released him? Did he 
not take her with him wherever he went and was he not condi- 
tioned by her whenever he thought to decide? What is freedom? 
Only the neutral is free. The characteristic is never free, it is 
stamped, determined, bound. Was it not “Kaisersaschem” that 
spoke in my friend’s decision to study theology? Adrian Lever- 
kiihn and Kaisersaschem: obviously the two together yielded the- 
ology. I asked myself further what else I had expected. He de- 
voted himself later to musical composition. But if it was very 
bold music he wrote, was it after all “free” music, world music? 
That it was not. It was the music of one who never escaped; it 
was, into its most mysterious, inspired, bizarre convolution, in 
every hollow breath and echo it gave out, characteristic music, 
music of Kaisersaschem. 

He was, I said, in high spirits at that time — and why not? Dis- 
pensed from oral examination on the basis of the maturity of his 
written work, he had taken leave of his teachers, with thanks for 
all they had done; while on their side respect for the profession 
he had chosen repressed the private annoyance they had always 
felt at his condescending facility. Even so, the worthy director of 
the School of the Brethren of the Common Life, a Pomeranian 
named Dr. Stoientin, who had been Adrian’s master in Greek, 
Middle High German, and Hebrew, did not fail at their private 
leave-taking to utter a word of warning. 

“Fa/e,” he said, “and God be with you, Leverkuhn. — The part- 
ing blessing comes from my heart, and whether yoh are of that 
opinion or not, it seems to me you may need it. You are a person 
richly gifted and you know it— as why should you not? You 
know too that He above, from whom all comes, gave you your 
gifts, for to Him you now offer them. You are right: natural mer- 
its are God's merits in us, not our own. It is His foe who, fallen 
through pride himself, would teach us to forget. He is evil to en- 
tertain, a roaring Eon who goes about seeking whom he mky 
devour. You are among those who have reason to be on guard 
against his wiles. It is a compliment I am paying you, or rather to 
what you are from God. Be it in humility, my friend, not m de- 
fiance or with boasting; and be ever mindful that self-satisfaction 
is Eke a falling away and unthankfulness against the Giver of aU 

Thus our honest schoolmaster, under whom later I served as 
teacher in the gymnasium. Adrian reported it smiling, on one of 
the many walks we took through field and forest, in that Easter- 
tide at Buchel. For he spent several weeks of freedom there after 



leaving school, and his good parents invited me to bear him com- 
pany. Well I remember the talks we had as we strolled, about 
Stoientin’s warning, especially about the expression “native merit” 
which he had used m his farewell. Adrian pointed out that he 
took it from Goethe, who enjoyed using it, and also “inborn mer- 
its,” seeking in the paradoxical combination to divorce from the 
word “merit” its moral character, and, conversely, to exalt the 
natural and inborn to a position of extra-moral, aristocratic de- 
sert. That was why he was against the claims of modesty which 
were always put forward by those disadvantaged by nature, and 
declared that “Only good-for-nothings are modest.” But Director 
Stoientin had used Goethe’s words more in Schiller’s sense, to 
whom everything had depended on freedom, and who therefore 
distinguished in a moral sense between talent and personal merit, 
sharply differentiating merit and fortune, which Goethe consid- 
ered to be inextricably interwoven. The director followed Schil- 
ler, when he called nature God and native talent the merit of God 
in us, which we were to wear in humility. 

“The Germans,” said the new undergraduate, a grass blade in 
his mouth, “have a two-track mind and an inexcusable habit of 
combination; they always want one thing and the other, they 
want to have it both ways. They are capable of turning out great 
personalities with antithetic principles of thought ana life. But 
then they muddle them, using the coinage of the one in the sense 
of the other; mixing everything aH up and thinking they can put 
freedom and aristocracy, idealism and natural childlikeness under 
one hat. But that probably does not do.” 

“But they have both in themselves,” I retorted; “otherwise they 
could not have exhibited both of them. A rich nation.” 

“A confused nation,” he persisted, “and bewildering for the 

But on the whole we philosophized thus but little, in these lei- 
surely country weeks. Generally speaking, he was more inclined 
to laughter and pranks than to metaphysical conversation. His 
sense of the comic, his fondness for it, his proneness to laughter, 
yes, to laughing till he cried, I have already spoken of, and I have 
given but a false picture of him if the reader has not seen this 
kind of abandon as an element in his nature. Of humour I would 
not speak; the word sounds for my ear too moderate, too good- 
natured to fit him. His love of laughter was more like an escape, a 
resolution, slightly orgiastic in its nature, of life’s manifold stern- 
ness; a product of extraordinary gifts, but to me never quite lik- 
able or healthy. Looking back upon the school life now ending, 



he gave this sense of the comic free rein, recalling droll types 
among pupils and teachers, or describing his last cultural expedi- 
tion and some small-town opera performance, whose improvisa- 
tions could not fail to be a source of mirth, though without det- 
riment to the seriousness of the work performed. Thus a paunchy, 
knock-kneed King Heinrich in Lohengrin was the butt of much 
laughter; Adrian was like to split over the round black mouth-hole 
in a beard like a woolly rug, out of which there poured his thun- 
dering bass. That was but one instance, perhaps too concrete, of 
the occasions he found for his paroxysms, Oftener there was no 
occasion at all, it was the purest silliness, and I confess that I al- 
ways had certain difficulties in seconding him. I do not love 
laughter so much, and when he abandoned himself to it I was al- 
ways compelled to think of a story which I knew only from him. 
It was from St,. Augustine’s De civitate Dei and was to the effect 
that Ham, son of Noah and father of Zoroaster the magian, had 
been the only man who laughed when he was bom —which could 
only have happened by the help of the Devil. It came inevitably 
to my mind whenever the occasion arose; but probably it was 
only an accompaniment to other inhibitions I had; for instance, I 
realize that the look that I inwardly directed upon him was too 
serious, not free enough from anxious suspense, for me to follow 
him whole-heartedly in his abandon. And perhaps my own na- 
ture has a certain stiffness and dryness that makes me inapt. 

Later he found in Rudiger Schildknapp, a writer and Anglo- 
phile whose acquaintance he made in Leipzig, a far better partner 
in such moods —wherefore I have always been a little jealous of 
the man. 


At Halle theological and philological educational traditions are 
interwoven ia many ways; and first of all in the historical figure 
of August Hermann Franclce, patron saint of the town, so to 
speak: that pietistic pedagogue who at the end of the seventeenth 
century — in other words, soon after the foundation of the uni- 
versity — formed in Halle the famous Francke Foundation of 
schools and orphanages, and in his own person and by its influ- 
ence united the religious interest with the humanistic and linguis- 
tic. And then the Castein Bible Institute, first authority for the 
revision of Luther’s language work, it too establishes a link be- 
tween religion and textual criticism. Also there was active in Halle 
at that time an outstanding Latinist, Heinrich Osiander, at whose 
feet I ardently desired to sit; and more than that, as I heard from 
Adrian, the course in Church history given by Professor Hans 
Kegel, D.D., included an extraordinary amount of material for a 
Student of profane history, which I wished to avail myself of, as 
I intended to elect history as my subsidiary course. 

Thus there was good intellectual justification when, after study- 
ing for two semesters in Jena and Giessen, I decided to draw my 
further nourishment from the breast of Alma Mater Hallensis. 
And my imagination saw an advantage in the fact that it was iden- 
tical with the University of Wittenberg, the two having been 
united when they were reopened after the Napoleonic Wars. 
Leverkuhn had matriculated there a half-year before I joined 
him, and of course I do not deny that his presence had played, a 
weighty, yes, a decisive part in my choice. Shortly after his ar- 
rival, and obviously out of some feeling of loneliness and for- 
sakenness, he had even proposed to me to join him; and though 
some months would have to pass before I answered his call, I was 
at once ready, yes, probably would not have needed die invita- 
tion, My own wish to be near him, to see how he went on, what 
progress he made and how his talents unfolded in the air of aca- 
demic freedom, this wish to live in daily intercourse with him, to 
watch over him, to have an eye on him from near by, would very 


likely have been enough of itself to take me to him. And there 
were besides, as I said, sufficing intellectual grounds. 

Of course in these pages I can only picture in a foreshortened 
form, just as I did with his school-days, the two years of our 
youth that I spent at Halle with my friend; the course of them 
interrupted, indeed, by holidays in Kaisersaschem and at his fa- 
ther’s farm. Were they happy years? Yes, they were, in the sense 
that they were the core of a period when with my senses at their 
freshest I was freely seeing, searching, and gathering in. Happy 
too in that I spent them at the side of a childhood companion to 
whom I clung, yes, whose life-problem, his being and becoming, 
at bottom interested me more than my own. For my own was 
simple, I did not need to spend much thought on it, only to ensure 
by faithful work the postulates for its prescribed solution. His 
was higher and in a sense more puzzling, a problem upon which 
the concern about my own progress always left me much time 
and mental energy to dwell. If I hesitate to describe those years 
by the epithet “happy”— always a questionable word— it is be- 
cause by association with him I was drawn much more effectively 
into his sphere of studies than he into mine, and the theological 
air did not suit me. It was not canny, it choked me; besides, it put 
me in an inward dilemma. The intellectual atmosphere there had 
been for centuries full of religious controversy, of those ecclesi- 
astical brawls which have always been so detrimental to the hu- 
manistic impulse to culture. In Halle I felt a little like one of my 
scientific forebears, Crotus Rubeanus, who in 1530 was canon at 
Halle, and whom Luther called nothing else than “the Epicurean 
Crotus” or “Dr. Krote, lickspittle of the Cardinal at Mainz.” He 
even said “the DivePs sow, the Pope,” and was in every way an 
intolerable boor, although a great man. I have always sympathized 
with the embarrassment that the Reformation caused to spirits 
like Crotus, because they saw in it an invasion of subjective arbi- 
trariness into the objective statutes and ordinances of the Church. 
Crotus had the scholar’s love of peace; he gladly leaned to reason- 
able compromise, was not against the restitution of the Commun- 
ion cup —and was indeed put after that in a painfully awkward 
position, through the detestable harshness with which his supe- 
rior, Archbishop Albrecht, punished the enjoyment of the Com- 
munion at Halle in both kinds. 

So goes it with tolerance, with love of culture and peace, be- 
tween the fires of fanaticism.— It was Halle that haa the first 
Lutheran superintendent: Justus Jonas, who went thither in 1541 
and was one of those who, like Melanchthon and Hutten, to the 



distress of Erasmus, had gone over from the humanistic camp to 
the reformers. But still worse in the eyes of the sage of Rotter- 
dam was the hatred that Luther and his partisans brought down 
upon classical learning — Luther had personally little enough of it 
— as the source of the spiritual turmoil. But what went on then in 
the bosom of the Universal Church, the revolt of subjective wil- 
fullness, that is, against the objective bond, was to repeat itself a 
hundred and some years later, inside Protestantism itself, as a 
revolution of pious feelings and inner heavenly joy against a pet- 
rified orthodoxy from which not even a beggar would any 
longer want to accept a piece of bread: as pietism, that is, which 
at the foundation of the University of Halle manned the whole 
theological faculty. It too, whose citadel the town now long re- 
mained, was, as formerly Lutheranism, a renewal of the Church, 
a reform and reanimation of the dying religion, already fallen 
into general indifference. And people like me may well ask them- 
selves whether these recurrent rescues of a hope already declin- 
ing to the grave are from a cultural point of view to be wel- 
comed; whether the reformers are not rather to be regarded as 
backsliding types and bringers of evil. Beyond a doubt, endless 
blood-letting and the most horrible self-laceration would have 
been spared the human race if Martin Luther had not restored 
the Church. 

I should be sorry, after what I have said, to be taken for an 
utterly irreligious man. That I am not, for I go with Schleier- 
macher, another Halle theologian, who defined religion as “feel- 
ing and taste for the Infinite” and called it “a pertinent fact,” 
present in the human being. In other words, the science of reli- 
gion has to do not with philosophical theses, but with an inward 
and given psychological fact. And that reminds me of the onto- 
logical evidence for the existence of God, which has always been 
my favourite, and which from the subjective idea of a Highest 
Being derives His objective existence. But Kant has shown in the 
most forthright words that such a thesis cannot support itself be- 
fore the bar of reason. Science, however, cannot get along with- 
out reason; and to want to make a science out of a sense of the 
infinite and the eternal mysteries is to compel two spheres funda- 
mentally foreign to each other to come together in a way that is 
in my eyes most unhappy and productive only of embarrassment. 
Surely a religious sense, which I protest is in no way lacking in 
me, is something other than positive and formally professed reli- 

f ion. Would it not have been better to hand over that “fact” of 
uman feeling for the infinite to the sense of piety, the fine arts. 



free contemplation, yes, even to exact research, which as cosmol- 
ogy, astronomy, theoretical physics, can serve this feeling with 
entirely religious devotion to the mystery of creation — instead of 
singling it out as the science of the spirit and developing on it 
structures of dogma, whose orthodox believers will then shed 
blood for a copula? Pietism, by virtue of its overemotional na- 
ture, would indeed make a sharp division between piety and sci- 
ence, and assert that no movement, no change in the scientific 
picture, can have any influence on faith. But that was a delusion, 
for theology has at all times willy-nilly let itself be determined 
by the scientific currents of the epoch, has always wanted to be a 
child of its time, although the time (in greater or less degree) 
made that difficult for it and drove it into an anachronistic comer. 
Is there another discipline at whose mere name we feel ourselves 
in such a degree set back into the past, into the sixteenth, the 
twelfth century? There is here no possibility of adaptation, of 
concession to scientific critique. What these display is a hybrid 
half-and-half of science and belief in revelation, which lies on the 
way to self-surrender. Orthodoxy itself committed the blunder 
of letting reason into the field of religion, in that she sought to 
prove the positions of faith by the test of reason. Under the pres- 
sure of the Enlightenment, theology had almost nothing to do 
but defend herself against the intolerable contradictions which 
were pointed, out to her: and only in order to get round them she 
embraced so much of the anti-revelation spirit that it amounted 
to an abandonment of faith. That was* the tame of the “reasonable 
worship of God,” of a generation of theologians in whose name 
Wolff declared at Halle: “Everything must be proved by reason, 
as on the philosophers’ stone”: a generation which pronounced 
that everything in the Bible which did not serve “moral better- 
ment ” was out of date, and gave out that the history and teach- 
ing of the Church were in its eyes only a comedy of errors. Since 
this went a little too far, there arose an accommodation theology, 
which sought to uphold a conservative middle ground between 
orthodoxy and a liberalism already by virtue of its reasonableness 
inclined to demoralization. But the two ideas “preserving” and 
“abandoning” have since then conditioned the life of “the science 
of religion” — ideas both of which have something provisional 
about them, for theology therewith prolonged its life. In its con- 
seryative form, holding to revelation and due traditional exegesis, 
it sought to save what was to be saved of the elements of Bible 
religion; on the other hand it liberally accepted the historico- 
critical methods of the profane science of history and abandoned 



to scientific criticism its own most important contents: the belief 
in miracles, considerable portions of Christology, the bodily resur- 
rection of Jesus, and what not besides. But what sort of science 
is that, which stands in such a forced and precarious relation to 
reason, constantly threatened with destruction by the very com- 
promises that she makes with it? In my view “liberal theology” 
is a contradictto m adjecto,” a contradiction in terms. A propo- 
nent of culture, ready to adapt itself to the ideals of bourgeois 
society, as it is, it degrades the religious to a function of the hu- 
man; the ecstatic and paradoxical elements so essential to the reli- 
gious genius it waters down to an ethical progressiveness. But the 
religious cannot be satisfied in the merely ethical, and so it comes 
about that scientific thought and theological thought proper part 
company again. The scientific superiority of liberal theology, it is 
now said, is indeed incontestable, but its theological position is 
weak, for its moralism and humanism lack insight into the de- 
monic character of human existence. Cultured indeed it is, but 
shallow; of the true understanding of human nature and the tragic 
nature of life the conservative tradition has at bottom preserved 
far more; for that very reason it has a profounder, more signifi- 
cant relation to culture than has progressive bourgeois ideology. 

Here one sees clearly the infiltration of theological thinking by 
irrational currents of philosophy, in whose realm, indeed, the non- 
theoretic, the vital, the will or instinct, in short the daemonic, 
have long since become the chief theme of theory. At the same 
time one observes a revival of the study of Catholic mediaeval 
philosophy, a turning to Neo-Thomism and Neo-Scholasticism, 
On these lines theology, grown sickly with liberalism, can take on 
deeper and stronger, yes, more glowing hues; it can once more 
do justice to the ancient aesthetic conceptions which are involun- 
tarily associated with its name. But the civilized human spirit, 
whether one call it bourgeois or merely leave it at civilized, can- 
Dot get rid of a feeling of the uncanny. For theology, confronted , 
with that spirit of the philosophy of life which is irrationalism, is 
is danger, by its veiy nature, of becoming daemonoiogy. 

I say all this only in order to explain the discomfort caused m 
me at times by my stay in Halle and my participation in Adrian’s 
studies, the lectures that I followed as a guest hearer in order to 
hear what he heard. I found in him no understanding for my un- 
easiness. He liked to talk over ■with me the theological problems 
touched on in the lectures and debated in the seminar; but he 
avoided any discussion that would have gone to the root of the 
matter and have dealt with the problematic position of theology 



among the sciences, and thus he evaded precisely the point which 
to my easily aroused anxiety was more pressing than all the rest. 
And so it was in the lectures as well: and so it went m associa- 
tion with his fellow-students, the members of the Christian Stu- 
dents’ Union Winfned, which he had joined on external grounds 
and whose guest I sometimes was. Of that perhaps more later. 
Here I will only say that some of these young people were the 
pale-complexioned _ “candidate” type, some robust as peasants, 
some also distinguished figures who obviously came from good 
academic circles. But they were all theologians, and conducted 
themselves as such with a decent and godly cheerfulness. How 
one can be a theologian, how in the spiritual climate of the pres- 
ent day one comes on the idea of choosing this calling, unless, 
indeed, it were simply by the operation of family tradition, they 
did not say, and for my part it would have been tactless and pry- 
ing to cross-examine them. A forthright question on the subject 
could at most have been in place and had: any chance of results 
in the course of a students’ evening jollification, when tongues 
and brains were loosened and livened by drink. But of course the 
members of Winfried were superior; they condemned not only 
duelling but also “boozing,” and so they were always sober— 
that is, they were inaccessible to questions they might not like to 
answer. They knew that State and Church needed ghostly offi- 
cers, and they were preparing themselves for that career. Theol- 
ogy was to them something given — and something historically 
given it certainly is. 

, I had to put up with it too, when Adrian took it in the same 
way, although it pained me that regardless of our friendship, 
rooted in early days as it was, he no more permitted the question 
than did his comrades. That shows how little he let one approach 
him; what fixed bounds he set to intimacy. But did I not say that 
I had found his choice of a profession significant and characteris- 
tic? Have I not explained it with the word “Kaisersaschem”? 
Often I called the thought to my aid when the problem of Adri- 
an’s field of study plagued me. I said to myself that both of us had 
shown ourselves true children of that comer of German antiquity 
where we had been brought up, I as humanist and he as theolo- 
gian. And when I looked round in our new circle I found that our 
theatre had indeed broadened but not essentially charged. 


Halle was, if not a metropolis, at least a large city, with more 
than two hundred thousand inhabitants. Yet despite all the mod- 
em volume of its traffic, it did not, at least in the heart of the 
town, where we both lived, belie its lofty antiquity. My “shop,” 
as we students said, was in the Hansastrasse, a narrow lane behind 
the Church of St. Moritz, which might well have run its anach- 
ronistic course in Kaisersaschern. Adrian had found an alcoved 
room in a gabled dwelling-house in the Market Square, renting 
from the elderly widow of an official during the two years of his 
stay. He had a view of the square, the mediaeval City Hall, the 
Gothic Marienkirche, whose domed towers were connected by a 
sort of Bridge of Sighs; the separate “Red Tower,” a very re- 
markable structure, also in Gothic style; the statue of Roland and 
the bronze statue of Handel. The room was not much more than 
adequate, with some slight indication of middle-class amenity in 
the shape of a red plush cover on the square table in front of the 
sofa, where his books lay and he drank his breakfast coffee. He 
had supplemented the arrangements with a rented cottage piano 
diways strewn with sheets of music, some written by himself. On 
the wall above the piano was an arithmetical diagram fastened 
with drawing-pins, something he had found in a second-hand 
shop: a so-called magic square, such as appears also in Durer’s 
Melancolta, along with the hour-glass, the circle, the scale, the 
polyhedron, and other symbols. Here as there, the figure was di- 
vided into sixteen Arabic-numbered fields, in such a way that 
number one was in the right-hand lower comer, sixteen in the 
upper left; and the magic, or the oddity, simply consisted in the 
fact that the sum of these numerals, however you added them, 
straight down, crosswise, or diagonally, always came to thirty- 
four. What the principle was upon which this magic uniformity 
rested I never made out, but by virtue of the prominent place 
Adrian had given it over the piano, it always attracted the eye, 
and I believe I never visited his room without giving a quick 


glance, slanting up or straight down and testing once more the 
invariable, incredible result. 

Between my quarters and Adrian’s there was a going to and fro 
as once between the Blessed Messengers and his uncle’s house: eve- 
nings after theatre, concert, or a meeting of the Winfried Verein, 
also in the mornings when one of us fetched the other to the uni- 
versity and before vve set out we compared out notebooks. Phi- 
losophy, the regular course for the first examination in theology, 
was the point at which our two programs coincided, and both of 
ns had put ourselves down with Kolonat Nonnenmacher, then one 
of the luminaries of the Universityof Halle. With great brilliance 
and elan he discussed the pre-Socratic, the Ionian natural philoso- 
phers, Anaximander, and more extendedly . Pythagoras, in the 
course of which discussion a good deal of Aristotle came in, since 
it is almost entirely through the Stagirite that we learn of the 
Pythagorean theory of the universe. We listened, we wrote down; 
from time to time we looked up into the mildly smiling face of 
the white-maned professor, as we heard this early cosmological 
conception of a stem and pious spirit, who elevated his funda- 
mental passion, mathematics, abstract proportion, number, to the 
principle of the origin and existence of the world; who, standing 
opposite All-Nature as an initiate, a dedicated one, first addressed 
her with a great gesture as “Cosmos,” as order and harmony, as 
the interval-system of the spheres, sounding beyond the range, of 
the senses. Number, and the relation of numbers, as. constituting 
an all-embracing' concept of being and moral value: it was highly 
impressive, how the beautiful, the exact, the moral, here, solemnly 
flowed together to comprise the idea of authority which animated 
the Pythagorean order, the esoteric school of religious renewal of 
life, of silent obedience and strict subjection trader the. Autos 
tphs.” I must chide myself for being tactless, because involun- 
tarily I glanced at Adrian at such words, to read his took. Or 
rather it became tactless simply because of the discomfort, the 
ted, averted face, -with which he met my not love 

personal glances, he altogether refused to entertain them or re- 
spond to them, and it is hard to understand why I, aware though 

ttout topics . tthich w wd- 

less look had given a personal reference. . . , 

So much the better when I had resisted such temp^aon an 
practised the discretion he exacted. How wefi, forinjaMe, we 

slHgoirar home after Nonnenmacher s class, about tha un- 



mortal thinker, influential down the millennia, to whose mediation 
and sense of history we owe our knowledge of the Pythagorean 
conception of the world! Aristotle’s doctrine of matter and form 
enchanted us; matter as the potential, possible, that presses 
towards form in order to realize itself; form as the moving un- 
moved, that is mind and soul, the soul of the existing that urges 
it to self-realization, self-completion in the phenomenon; thus of 
the entelechy, which, a part of eternity, penetrates and animates 
the body, manifests itself shapmgly in the organic and guides its 
motive-power, knows its goal, watches over its destiny. Non- 
nenmacher had spoken beautifully and impressively about these 
intuitions, and Adrian appeared extraordinarily impressed there- 
by. “When,” he said, “theology declares that the soul is from 
God, that is philosophically right, for as the principle which 
shapes the single manifestations, it is a part of the pure form of 
all being, comes from the eternally self-contemplating contem- 
plation which we call God. ... I believe I understand what 
Aristotle meant by the word ‘entelechy.’ It is the angel of the in- 
dividual, the genius of his life, in whose all-knowing guidance it 
gladly confides. What we call prayer is really the statement of 
this confidence, a notice-giving or invocation. But prayer it is cor- 
rectly called, because it is at bottom God whom we thus address.” 

I could only think: May thine own angel prove himself faithful 
and wise! 

How I enjoyed hearing this course of lectures at Adrian’s side! 
But the theological ones, which I — though not regularly — at- 
tended on his account, were for me a more doubtful pleasure; and 
I went to them only in order not to be cut off from what occupied 
him. In the curriculum of a theology student in the first years the 
emphasis is on history and exegesis, history of the Church and of 
dogma, Assyriology and a variety of special subjects. The middle 
years belong to systematics; that is to say, to the philosophy of 
religion, ethics, and apologetics. At the end come the practical 
disciplines, the science of preaching, catechesis, the care of souls, 
Church law, and the science of Church government. But aca- 
demic freedom leaves much room for personal preference, and 
Adrian made use of it to throw over the regular order, devoting 
himself from the first to systematics, out of general intellectual 
interest, of course, which in this field comes most to account; but 
also because its professor, Ehrenfried Kumpf, was the “meatiest” 
lecturer in the whole university and had altogether the largest at- 
tendance from students of all years, not only theological ones. I 
said indeed that we both heard Church history from Kegel, but 



those were comparatively dull hours, and the tedious Kegel could 
by no means vie with Kumpf. 

The latter was very much what the students called a “power- 
ful personality”; even I could not forgo a certain admiration for 
his temperament, though I did not like him in the least and have 
never been able to believe that Adrian was not at times unpleas- 
antly impressed by his crude heartiness, though he did not make 
fun of him openly. Powerful he certainly was, in his physical 
person; a big, full-bodied, massive man with hands like cushions, 
a thundering voice, and an underlip that protruded slightly from 
mtich talking and tended to spit and sputter. It is true that Kumpf 
usually read his lecture from a printed textbook, his own produc- 
tion; but his glory was the so-called “extra punches” which he 
interpolated, delivered with his fists thrust into his vertical trouser- 
pockets past the flung-back frock coat, as he stumped up and 
down on his platform. Thanks to their spontaneity, bluntness, 
coarse and hearty good humour, and picturesquely archaic style, 
they were uncommonly popular with the students. It was his way 
— to quote him — to say a thing “in good round terms, no mealy- 
mouthing” or "in good old German, without mincing matters.” 
Instead of “gradually” he said “by a little and a little”; instead of 
“I hope” he said “I hope and trow”; he never spoke of the Bible 
otherwise than as Godes Boke. He said “There’s foul work” in- 
stead of “There’s something wrong.” Of somebody who, in his 
view, was involved in scientific error, he said “He’s in the wrong 
pew”; of a vicious man: “he spends his life like the beasts of the 
field.” He loved expressions fee: “He that will eat the .kernel 
must crack the nut”; or “It pricketh betimes that will be a sharp 
thorn.” Medieval oaths like “Gogs wownds,” by “Goggys bodye,” 
even “by the guts of Goliath” came easily to his ups and — es- 
pecially the last— -were received by the students with lusty 

, Theologically speaking, Kumpf was a representative of that 
middle-of-the-road conservatism with critical and liberal traits 
to which I have referred. As a student he was, as he told us in his 
peripatetic extempores, dead set on classical literature and philoso- 
phy, and boasted of having known by heart all of Schiller’s and 
Goethe’s “weightier” works. But then something had come over 
him, connected with the revival movement of the middle of the 
previous century, and the Pauline gospel of sin and justification 
made him turn away from aesthetic humanism. One must be a 
bom theologian to estimate properly such spiritual destinies and, 
Damascus experiences. Kumpf had convinced himself that our 



thinking too is a broken reed and needs justification, and precisely 
this was the basis of his liberalism, for it led him to see in dog- 
matism an intellectual form of phariseeism. Thus he had arrived 
at criticism of dogma by a route opposite to that of Descartes, to 
whom, on the contrary, the self-certainty of the consciousness, 
the cogitate , seemed more legitimate than all scholastic authority. 
Here we have the difference between theological and philosophi- 
cal sanctions. Kumpf had found his in a blithe and hearty trust 
in God, and reproduced it before us hearers “in good old German 
words.” He was not only anti-pharisaic, anti-dogmatic, but also 
anti-metaphysical, with a position addressed entirely to ethics and 
theoretic knowledge, a proponent of the morally based ideal of 
personality and mightily opposed to the pietistic divorce of world 
and religion; secularly religious, indeed, and ready for healthy en- 
joyment, an affirmer of culture, especially of German culture, for 
on every occasion he showed himself to be a nationalist of the 
Luther stamp, out of whole cloth. He could say of a man nothing 
worse than that he thought and taught like a “flatulent furriner,” 
Red as a turkey-cock with rage, he might add: “And may the Divel 
shit on him, Amen!” — which again was greeted with loud stamp- 
ings of applause. 

His liberalism, that is, was not based on humanistic distrust of 
dogma, but on religious doubt of the reliability of our thinking. 
It did not prevent him from believing stoutly in revelation, nor 
indeed from being on a very familiar footing with the Devil, if 
also, of course, the reverse of a cordial one. I cannot and would not 
inquire how far he believed in the personal existence of the Great 
Adversary. I only say to myself that wherever theology is, and 
certainly in so “meaty” a personality as Ehrenfried Kumpf, there 
too the devil belongs to the picture and asserts his complementary 
reality to that of God. It is easy to say that a modem theologian 
takes him “symbolically.” In my view theology cannot be mod- 
em-one may reckon that to its advantage, of course — and as 
for symbolism, I cannot see why one should take hell more sym- 
bolically than heaven. The people have certainly never done so. 
Always the crass, obscenely comic figure of the “divel” has been 
nearer to them than the Eternal Majesty; and Kumpf, in his way, 
was a man of the people. When he spoke with relish of the “ever- 
lasting fire and brimstone” and of “hell’s bottomless pit,” that 
picturesque form, while slightly comic, at least carried more con- 
viction than ordinary words would have done. One did not at all 
get the impression that he was speaking symbolically, but rather 
that this was “good plain German, with nothing mealy-mouthed 



about it.” It was the same with Satan himself. I did say that 
Kumpf, as a scholar and man of science, made concessions to criti- 
cism m the matter of literal faith in the Bible, and at least by fits 
and starts “abandoned” much, with a great air of intellectual re- 
spectability. But at bottom he saw the Arch-Deceiver, the Wicked 
Fiend capitally at work on the reason itself and seldom referred 
to him without adding: “Si Diabolus non esset mendax et homi- 
cidal” He appeared reluctant to name him straight out, preferring 
to say “Divel” or “Debbie”; sometimes “the great old Serpent,” 
or, with literary relish, “Timothy Tempter.” But just this half- 
jesting, half-shrinking avoidance had something of a grim and re- 
luctant recognition about it. And he had at command still other 
pithy and forgotten epithets, some homely and some classic, such 
as: Old Blackie, Abaddon, Belial, also Master Dicis-et-non-facis, 
Black Kaspar, the old Serpent and the Father of Lies. They did, 
in a half-humorous way, express his highly personal and intimate 
animosity to the Great Adversary. 

After Adrian and I had paid our formal call, we were now 
and again invited by Kumpf to his house, and took supper with 
him, his wife, and their two daughters, who had glaringly red 
cheeks and hair first wet and then so tightly plaited that it stuck 
straight out from their heads. One of them said grace while the 
rest of us bowed our heads discreetly over our plates. Then the 
master of the house, expatiating the while on God and the world, 
the Church, the university, politics, and even art and the theatre, 
in unmistakable imitation of Luther’s Table Talk, laced power- 
fully into the meat and drink, as an example to us and in token 
that he had nothing against the healthy and cultured enjoyment 
of the good things of this world. He repeatedly urged us to fall 
to, not to despise the good gifts of God, the leg of mutton, the 
elder-blossom Moselle. After the sweet, to our horror, he took a 
guitar from the wall, pushed away from the table, flung one leg 
across the other, and sang in his booming voice, to the twanging 
of the strings: “To Wander is the Miller’s Joy,” “Lutzow’s Wild 
Reckless Ride,” “The Lorelei,” “Gaudeamus Igitur,” “Wine, 
Women, and Song.” Yes, it had to come, and it came. He shouted 
it out, and before our faces he took his plump wife round the 
waist. Then with his fat forefinger he pointed to a dark comer 
where the rays of the shaded lamp over the supper-table did not 
fall — “Look”! he cried. “There he stands in the comer, the mock- 
ing-bird, the make-bate, the malcontent, the sad, bad guest, and 
cannot stand it to see us merry in God with feasting and song. 
But he shall not harm us, the arch-villain, with his sly fiery ar- 



rows! Apagel ” he thundered, seized a roll and flung it into the 
dark comer. After this he took his instrument again and sang: “He 
who the world will joyous rove.” 

All this was pretty awful, and I take it Adrian must have 
thought so too, though his pride prevented him from exposing his 
teacher. However, when we went home after that fight with the 
Devil, he had such a fit of laughter in the street that it only gradu- 
ally subsided with the diversion of his thoughts. 


But I must devote a few words to another figure among our 
teachers; the equivocal nature of this man intrigued me, so that I 
remember him better than all the rest. He was Privat-docent Eber- 
hard Schleppfuss, who for two semesters at this time lectured at 
Halle among the venia legendi and then disappeared from the 
scene, I know not whither. Schlfeppfuss was a creature of hardly 
average height, puny in figure, wrapped in a black cape or mantle 
instead of an overcoat, which closed at die throat with a little 
metal chain. With it he wore a sort of soft hat with the brim 
turned up at the sides, rather like a Jesuit’s. When we students 
greeted him on the street he would take it off with a very sweep 
ing bow and say: “Your humble servant! ” It seemed to me that he 
really did drag one foot, but people disputed it; I could not al- 
ways be sure of it when I saw him walk, and would rather ascribe 
my impression to a subconscious association with his name. It was 
not in any case so far-fetched, considering the nature of his two- 
hour lectures. I do not remember precisely how they were listed. 
In matter certainly they were a little vague, they might have been 
called lectures on the psychology of religion — and very probably 
were. The material was “exclusive” in its nature, not important 
for examinations, and only a handful of intellectual and more or 
less revolutionary-mirided students, ten or twelve, attended it. I 
wondered, indeed, that there were no more, for Schleppfuss’s of- 
fering was interesting enough to arouse a more extended curi- 
osity. But the occasion went to prove that even the piquant for- 
feits its popularity when accompanied by demands on the intellect. 

I have already said that theology by its very nature tends and 
under given circumstances always will tend to become daemonol- 
ogy. Schleppfuss was a good instance of the thing I mean, of a 
very advanced and intellectual kind, for his daemonic conception 
of God and the universe was illuminated by psychology and thus 
made acceptable, yes, even attractive, to the modem scientific 
mind. His delivery contributed to the effect, for it was entirely 
calculated to impress the young. It was impromptu, well ex- 



pressed, without effort or break, smooth as though prepared for 
the press, with faintly ironical turns of phrase; and he spoke not 
from the platform but somewhere at one side, half-sitting on the 
balustrade, the ends of his fingers interlaced in his lap, with the 
thumbs spread out, and his parted little beard moving up and 
down. Between it and the twisted moustaches one saw his pointed 
teeth like tiny splinters. Professor Kumpf’s good out-and-out 
ways with the Devil were child’s play compared to the psycho- 
logical actuality with which Schleppfuss invested the Destroyer, 
that personified falling-away from God. For he received, if I may 
so express myself, dialectically speaking, the blasphemous and of- 
fensive into the divine and hell into the empyrean; declared the 
vicious to be a necessary and inseparable concomitant of the holy, 
and the holy a constant Satanic temptation, an almost irresistible 
challenge to violation. 

He demonstrated this by instances from the Christian Middle 
Ages, the classical period of religious rule over the life and spirit 
of man, and in particular from its ultimate century; thus from a 
lame of complete harmony between ecclesiastical judge and delin- 
quent, between inquisitor and witch on the fact of the betrayal of 
God, of the alliance with the Devil, the frightful partnership with 
demons. The provocation to vice proceeding from the sacrosanct 
was the essential thing about it, it was the thing itself, betrayed 
for instance in the characterization by apostates of the Virgin 
as “the fat woman,” or by extraordinarily vulgar interpolations, 
abominable filthinesses, which the Devil made them mutter to 
themselves at the celebration of the Mass. Dr. Schleppfuss, with 
his fingers interlaced, repeated them word for word; I refrain 
from doing so myself, on grounds of good taste, but am not re- 
proaching him for paying scientific exactitude its due. It was odd, 
all the same, to see the students conscientiously writing that sort 
of thing down in their notebooks. According to Schleppfuss all 
this — evil, the Evil One himself — was a necessary emanation and 
inevitable accompaniment of the Holy Existence of God, so that 
vice did not consist in itself but got its satisfaction from the defile- 
ment of virtue, without which it would have been rootless; in 
other words, it consisted in the enjoyment of freedom, the possi- 
bility of sinning, which was inherent in the act of creation itself. 

Herein was expressed a certain logical incompleteness of the 
All-powerfulness and All-goodness of God; for what He had not 
been able to do was to produce in the creature, in that which He 
had liberated out of Himself and which was now outside Him, 
the incapacity for sin. That would have meant denying to the 



created being the free will to turn away from God — which 
would have been an incomplete creation, yes, positively not a 
creation at all, but a surrender on the part of God. God’s logical 
dilemma had consisted in this: that He had been incapable of giv- 
ing the creature, the human being and the angel, both independent 
choice, in other words free will, and at the same time the gift of 
not being able to sin. Piety and virtue, then, consisted in making 
a good use, that is to say no use at all, of the freedom which God 
had to grant the creature as such — and that, indeed, if you listened 
to Schleppfuss, was a little as though this non-use of freedom 
meant a certain existential weakening, a diminution of the inten- 
sity of being, in the creature outside of God. 

Freedom, How extraordinary the word sounded, in Schlepp- 
fuss’s mouth! Yes, certainly it had a religious emphasis, he spoke 
as a theologian, and he spoke by no means with contempt. On the 
contrary, he pointed out the high degree of significance which 
must be ascribed by God to this idea, when He had preferred to 
expose men and angels to sin rather than withhold freedom from 
them. Good, then freedom was the opposite of inborn sinlessness, 
freedom meant the choice of keeping faith with God, or having 
traffic with demons and being able to mutter beastlinesses at the 
Mass. That was a definition suggested by the psychology of reli- 
gion. But freedom has before now played a role, perhaps of less 
intellectual significance and yet not lacking in seriousness, in the 
life of the peoples of the earth and in historical conflicts. It does 
so at this moment — as I write down this description of a life — in 
the war now raging, and as I in ray retreat like to believe, not 
least in the souls and thoughts of our German people, upon whom, 
under the domination of the most audacious licence, is dawning 
perhaps for the first time in their lives a notion of the importance 
of freedom. Well, we had not got so far by then The question of 
freedom was, or seemed, in our student days, not a burning one, 
and Dr. Schleppfuss might give to the word the meaning that 
suited the frame of his lecture and leave any other meanings on 
one side. If only I had had the impression that he did leave them 
on one side; that absorbed in his psychology of religion he was 
not mindful of them! But he was mindful of them; I could not 
shake off the conviction. And his theological definition of free- 
dom was an apologia and a polemic against the “more modem,” 
that is to say more insipid, more ordinary ideas, which his hearers 
might associate with them. See, he seemed to say, we have the 
word too, it is at our service, don’t think that it only occurs in 
your dictionaries and that your idea of it is the only one dictated 



by reason. Freedom is a very great thing, the condition of crea- 
tion, that which prevented God making us proof against falling 
away from Him. Freedom is the freedom to sm, and piety consists 
in making no use of it out of love for God, who had to give it. 

Thus he developed his theme: somewhat tendentiously, some- 
what maliciously, if I do not deceive myself. In short, it'irritated 
me. 1 don’t like it when a person wants the whole show; takes the 
word out of his opponent’s mouth, turns it round, and confuses 
ideas with it. That is done today with the utmost audacity; it is 
the main ground of my retirement. Certain people should not 
speak of freedom, reason, humanity; on grounds of scrupulosity, 
they should leave such words alone. But precisely about human- 
ity did Schleppfuss speak, just that — of course in the sense of the 
“classic centuries of belief” on whose spiritual constitution he 
based his psychological discussion. Clearly it was important to 
him to make it understood that humanity was no invention of the 
free spirit, that not to it alone did this idea belong, for that it had 
always existed. For example, the activities of the Inquisition were 
animated by the most touching humanity. A woman, he related, 
had been taken, in that “classic” time, tried and reduced to ashes, 
who for full six years had had knowledge of an incubus, at the 
very side of her sleeping husband, three times a week, preferably 
on holy days. She had promised the Devil that after seven years 
she would belong to him body and soul. But she had been lucky: 
for just before the end of the term God in his loving-kindness 
made her fall into the hands of the Inquisition, and even under a 
slight degree of the question she had made a full and touchingly 

S mtent confession, so that in all probability she obtained pardon 
>m God. Willingly indeed did she go to her death, with the ex- 
, press declaration that even if she were freed she would prefer the 
stake, in order to escape from the power of the demon, so re- 
pugnant had her life become to her through her subjection to her 
filthy sin. But what beautiful unanimity of culture spoke in this 
harmonious accord between the judge and the delinquent and 
what warm humanity in the satisfaction at snatching through fire 
this soul from the Devil at the very last minute and securing for 
it the pardon of God! 

Schleppfuss drew our attention to this picture, he summoned us 
to observe not only what else humanity could be but also what it 
actually was. It would have been to no purpose to bring in an- 
other word from the vocabulary of the free-thinker and to speak 
of hopeless superstition. Schleppfuss knew how to use this word 
too, in the name of the “classic” centuries, to whom it .was far 



from unknown. That woman with the incubus had surrendered to 
senseless superstition and to nothing else. For she had fallen away 
from God, fallen away from faith, and that was superstition. Su- 
perstition did not mean belief in demons and incubi, it meant 
having to do with them for harm, inviting the pestilence and ex- 
pecting from them what is only to be expected from God. Super- 
stition meant credulity, easy belief in the suggestions and instiga- 
tions of the enemy of the human race; the conception covered all 
the chants, invocations, and conjuring formula, all the letting 
oneself in with the black arts, the vices and crimes, the flagellum 
heereticorum fascinariorum, the illusiones damonum. Thus might 
one define the word “superstition,” thus it had been defined, and 
after all it was interesting to see how man can use words and what 
he can get out of them. 

Of course the dialectic association of evil with goodness and 
holiness played an important role in the theodicy, the vindication 
of God in view of the existence of evil, which occupied much 
space in Schleppfuss’s course. Evil contributed to the wholeness 
of the universe, without it the universe would not have been com- 
plete; therefore God permitted it, for He was consummate and 
must therefore will the consummate — not in the sense of the con- 
summately good but in the sense of AU-sidedness and reciprocal 
enlargement of life. Evil was far more evil if good existed; good 
was far more good if evil existed; yes, perhaps — one might dis- 
agree about this — evil would not be evil at all if not for the good, 
good not good at all if not for evil. St, Augustine, at least, had 
gone so far as to say that the function of the bad was to make the 
good stand out more strongly; that it pleased the more and was 
the more lovely, the more it was compared with the bad. At this 
point indeed Thomism had intervened, with a warning that it was 
dangerous to believe that God wanted evil to happen, God nei- 
ther wanted that nor did He want evil not to happen; rather He 
permitted, without willing or not-willing, the rule of evil, and that 
was advantageous to the completeness of the whole. But it was 
aberration to assert that God permitted evil on account of the 
good; for nothing was to be considered good except it corre- 
sponded to the idea “good” in itself, and not by accident. Any- 
how, said Schleppfuss, the problem of the absolute good and 
beautiful came up here, the good and beautiful without reference 
to the evil and ugly — the problem of quality without comparison. 
Where comparison falls away, he said, the measure falls away too, 
and one cannot speak, of heavy or light, of large or small. The 
good and beautiful would then be divested of all but being, un- 


such a meaning was always to be deduced from enigmatic sayings, 
and keen-eared piety always heard it in them. 

But it was astonishing how lax the angelic watch had always 
been in the case of God’s saints, at least so far as “peace” came in 
question. The book of the Holy Fathers was full of accounts to 
the effect that even while defying all fleshly lust, they have been 
tempted by the lust after women, past the bounds of belief. “There 
was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to 
buffet me.” That was an admission, made to the Corinthians, and 
though the writer possibly meant something else by it, the falling 
sickness or the like, in any case the godly interpreted it in their 
own way and were probably right after all, for their instinct very 
likely did not err when it darkly referred to the demon of sex 
in connection with the temptations that assailed the mind. The 
temptation that one withstood was indeed no sin; it was merely 
a proof of virtue. And yet the line between temptation and sin 
was hard to draw, for was not temptation already the raging of 
sin in the blood, and in the very state of fleshly desire did there 
not lie much concession to evil? Here again the dialectical unity 
of good and evil came out, for holiness was unthinkable without 
temptation, it measured itself against the frightfulness of the 
temptation, against a man’s sin-potential. 

But from whom came the temptation? Who was to be cursed 
on its account? It was easy to say that it came from the Devil' 
He was its source, but the curse had to do with its object. The 
object, the instrumentum of the Tempter, was woman. She was , 
also, and by that token, indeed, the instrument of holiness, since 
holiness did not exist without raging lust for sin. But the thanks 
she got had a bitter taste. Rather the remarkable and profoundly 
significant thing was that though the human being, both male and 
female, was endowed with sex, and although the localization of 
the daemonic in the loins fitted the man better than the woman, 
yet the whole curse of fleshliness, of slavery to sex, was laid upon 
the woman. There was even a saying: “A beautiful woman is like 
a gold ring in the nose of the sow,” How much of that sort of 
thing, in past ages, has not been said and felt most profoundly 
about woman! It had to do with the concupiscence of the flesh in 
general; but was«*equated with that of the female, so that the 
fleshliness of the man was put down to her account as well Hence 
tiie words: “I found the woman bitterer than death, and even a 
good wo ma n is subject to the covetousness of the flesh.” 

One might have asked: and the good man too? And the holy 
man quite especially so? Yes, but that was the influence of the 



woman, who represented the collective concupiscence of the 
world. Sex was her domain, and how should she not, who was 
called femina, which came half from fidus and half from minus — 
that is, of lesser faith — why should she not be on evil and famil- 
iar footing with the obscene spirits who populated this field, and 
quite particularly suspect of intercourse with them, of witch- 
craft? There was the instance of that married woman who next 
to her trusting, slumbering spouse had carried on with an incubus, 
and that for years on end. Of course there were not only incubi 
but also succubi, and in fact an abandoned youth of the classical 
period lived with an idol, whose diabolic jealousy he was in the 
end to experience. For after some years, and more on practical 
grounds than out of real inclination, he had married a respectable 
woman, but had been prevented from consummating his marriage 
because the idol had always come and lain down between them. 
Then the wife in justifiable wrath had left him, and for the rest 
of his life he had seen himself confined to the unaccommodating 

Even more telling, Schleppfuss thought, for the psychological 
situation, was the restriction imposed upon a youth of that same 
period: it had come upon him by no fault of his own, through fe- 
male witchcraft, and tragic indeed had been the means of his re- 
lease. As a comment upon the studies I pursued in common with 
Adrian I will briefly recount the tale, on which Privat-docent 
Schleppfuss dwelt with considerable wit and relish. 

At Merseburg, near Constance, toward the end of the fifteenth 
century, there Uved an honest young fellow, Heinz Klopfgeissel 
by name and cooper by calling, quite sound and well-built. He 
loved and was loved by a maiden named Barbel, only daughter 
of a widowed sexton, and wished to marry her, but the young 
couple’s desire met with her father’s opposition, for Klopfgeissel 
was poor, and the sexton insisted on a considerable setting-up in 
life, and that he should be a master in his trade before he gave 
him his daughter. But the desires of the young people had proved 
stronger than their patience and the couple had prematurely, be- 
come a pair. And every night, when the sexton went to ring the 
bell, Klopfgeissel slipped in to his Barbel and their embraces made 
each find the other the most glorious thing on earth. 

Thus things stood when one day the cooper and some lively 
companions went to Constance to a church dedication and they 
lad a good (fey and were a bit beyond themselves, so they de- 
cided to go to some women. It was not to Klopfgeissel’s mind, he 
did not want to go with them. But the others jeered at him for. an 



old maid and egged him on with taunts against his honour and 
hints that all was not right with him; and as he could not stand 
that, and had drunk just as much beer as the others besides, he let 
himself be talked round, said: “Ho-ho, I know better than that,” 
and went up with the others into the stews. 

But now it came about that he suffered such frightful chagrin 
that he did not know what sort of face to put on. For against all 
expectation things went wrong with him with the slut, a Hun- 
garian woman it was, he could give no account of himself at all, 
he was just not there, and his fury was unbounded, his fright as 
well. For the creature not only laughed at him, but shook her 
head and gave it as her view that there must be something wrong, 
it certainly had a bad smell, when a fine lusty chap like him all 
of a sudden was just not up to it, he must be possessed, somebody 
must have given him something — and so on. He paid her a goodly 
sum so that she would say nothing, and went home greatly cast 

As soon as he could, though not without misgiving, he made a 
rendezvous with his Barbel, and while the sexton was ringing his 
bell they had a perfect hour together. He found his manly honour 
restored and should have been well content. For aside from the 
one and only he cared for no one, and why should he care about 
himself save only for her? But he had been uneasy in his mind 
ever since that one failure; it gnawed at him, he felt he must make 
another test: just once and never again, play false to his dearest 
and best. So he sought secretly for a chance to test himself — him- 
self and her too, for he could cherish no misgiving about himself 
that did not end in slight, even tender, yet anxious suspicion of 
her upon whom his soul hung. 

Now, it so fell out that he had to tighten the hoops of two 
casks in the wine-cellar of the inn landlord, a sickly pot-belly, and 
the man’s wife, a comely wench, still pretty fresh, went down 
with him to watch him work. She patted his arm, put hers beside 
it to compare, and so demeaned herself that it would have been 
impossible to repulse her, save that his flesh, in all the willingness 
of his spirit, was entirely unable, and he had to say he was not in 
the humour, and he was in a hurry, and her husband would be 
coming downstairs, and then to take to his heels, hearing her 
scornful laughter behind him and owing her a debt which no 
stout fellow should ever refuse to pay. 

He was deeply injured and bewildered about himself, but about 
himself not only; for the suspicion that even after the first mis- 
hap had lodged in his mind now entirely filled him, and he had no 



more doubt that he was indeed “possessed.” And so, because the 
healing of a poor soul and the honour of his flesh as well were at 
stake, he went to the priest and told him everything in his ear 
through the little grating: how he was bewitched, how he was 
unable, how he was prevented with everybody but one, and how 
about all that and had the Church any maternal advice to give 
against such injury. 

Now, at that time and in that locality the pestilence of witch- 
craft, accompanied by much wantonness, sin, and vice instigated 
by the enemy of the human race, and abhorrent to the Divine 
Majesty, had been gravely widespread, and stem watchfulness had 
been made the duty of all shepherds of souls. The priest, all too 
familiar with this kind of mischief, and men being tampered with 
in their best strength, went to the higher authorities with Klopf- 
geissel’s confession. The sexton’s daughter was arrested and exam- 
ined, and confessed, truly and sincerely, that in the anguish of her 
heart over the faithfulness of the young man, lest he be filched 
from her before he was hers before God and man, she had pro- 
cured from an old bath-woman a specific, a salve, said to be made 
of the fat of an infant dead unbaptized, with which she had 
anointed her Heinz on the back while embracing him, tracing a 
certain figure thereon, only in order to bind him to herself. Next 
the bathing-woman was interrogated, who denied it stoutly. She 
had to be brought before the civil authorities for the application 
of methods of questioning which did not become the Church; and 
under some pressure the expected came to light. The old woman 
had in fact a compact with the Devil, who appeared to her in the 
guise of a monk with goat’s feet and persuaded her to deny with 
frightful curses the Godhead and the Christian faith, in return for 
which he gave her directions for making not only that love unc- 
tion but also other shameful panaceas, among them a fat, smeared 
with which a piece of wood would instantly rise with the sor- 
cerer into the air. The ceremonies by which the Evil One had 
sealed his pact with the old crone came out bit by bit under re- 
peated pressure, and were hair-raising. 

Everything now depended upon the question: how far was the 
salvation of the deceived one involved by her receiving and using 
the unholy preparation? Unhappily for the sexton’s daughter the 
old woman deposed that the Dragon had laid upon her to make 
many converts. For every human being she brought to him by 
betraying it to the use of his gifts, he would make her somewhat 
more secure against the everlasting flames; so that after assiduous 
marshalling of converts she would be armed with an asbestos 



buckler against the flames of hell. — This was Barbel’s undoing. 
The need to save her soul from eternal damnation, to tear her from 
the Devil’s claws by yielding her body to the flames, was per- 
fectly apparent. And since on account of the increasing ravages 
of corruption an example was bitterly needed, the two witches, 
the old one and the young, were burned at the stake, one beside 
the other on the open square. Heinz Klopfgeissel, the bewitched 
one, stood in the throng of spectators with his head bared, mur- 
muring prayers. The shrieks of his beloved, choked by smoke and 
unrecognizable with hoarseness, seemed to him like the voice of 
the Demon, croaking as against his will he issued from her. From 
that hour the vile inhibition was lifted from him, for no sooner 
was his love reduced to ashes than he recovered the sinfully alien- 
ated free use of his manhood. 

I have never forgotten this revolting tale, so characteristic of 
the tone of Schleppfuss’s course, nor have I ever been able to be 
quite cool about it. Among us, between Adrian and me, as well 
as in discussions in Winfried it was much talked about; but nei- 
ther in him, who was always taciturn about his teachers and what 
they said, nor in his theological fellow-students did I succeed in 
rousing the amount of indignation which would have satisfied my 
own anger at the anecdote, especially against Klopfgeissel. Even 
today in my thoughts I address him breathing vengeance and call 
him a prize ass in every sense of the word. Why did the donkey 
have to tell? Why had he to test himself on other women when 
he had the one he loved, loved obviously so much that it made 
him cold and “impotent” with others? What does “impotent” 
mean in this connection, when with the one he loved he had all 
die potency of love? Love is certainly a kind of noble selective- 
ness of sexuality, and if it is natural that sexual activity should de- 
cline in the absence of love, yet it is nothing less than unnatural 
if it does so in the presence and face of love. In any case, Barbel 
had fixed and “restricted” her Heinz — not by means of any devil’s 
hocus-pocus but by the charm she had for him and the will by 
which she held him as by a spell against other temptations. That 
this protection in its strength and influence on the youth’s nature 
was psychologically reinforced by the magic salve and the girl’s 
belief in it, I am prepared to accept, though it does seem to me 
simpler and more correct to look at the matter from his side and 
to make the selective feeling given by his love responsible for the 
inhibition over which he was so stupidly upset. But this point of 
view too includes the recognition of a certain natural wonder- 
working of the spiritual, its power to affect and modify the or- 



game and corporeal in a decisive way — and this so to speak magic 
side of the thing it was, of course, that Schleppfuss purposely em- 
phasized in his comments on the Klopfgeissel case. 

He did it in a quasi-humanistic sense, in order to magnify the 
lofty idea which those supposedly sinister centuries had had of the 
choice constitution of the human body. They had considered it 
nobler than all other earthly combinations of matter, and in its 
power of variation through the spiritual had seen the expression 
of its aristocracy, its high rank in the hierarchy of bodies. It got 
cold or hot through fear or anger, thin with affliction; blossomed 
in joy; a mere feeling of disgust could produce a physiological re- 
action like that of bad food, the mere sight of a dish of straw- 
berries could make the skin of an allergic person break out; yes, 
sickness and death could follow purely mental operations. But it 
was only a step — though a necessary one — from this insight into 
the power of the mind to alter its own and accompanying physi- 
cal matter, to the conviction, supported by ample human experi- 
ence, that mind, whether wilfully or not, was able, that is by 
magic, to alter another person’s physical substance. In other 
words, the reality of magic, of daemonic influence and bewitch- 
ment, was corroborated; and phenomena such as the evil eye, a 
complex of experience concentrated in the saga of the death- 
dealing eye of the basilisk, were rescued from the realm of so- 
called superstition. It would have been culpable inhumanity to 
deny that an impure soul could produce by a mere look, whether 
deliberate or not, physically harmful effects in others, for instance 
in little children, whose tender substance was especially suscepti- 
ble to the poison of such an eye. 

Thus Schleppfuss in his exclusive course — exclusive because it 
was both intellectual and questionable. Questionable: a capital 
word, I have always ascribed a high philological value to it. It 
challenges one both to go in to and to avoid; anyhow to a very 
cautious going-in; and it stands in the double light of the remark- 
able and the disreputable, either in a thing — or in a man. 

In our bow to Schleppfuss when we met him in the street or in 
the corridors of^the university we expressed all the respect with 
which the high intellectual plane of his lecture inspired us hour 
by hour; but he on his side took off his hat with a still deeper 
flourish than ours and said: “Your humble servant.” 


Mystic numbeis are not much in my line; I had been concerned 
to see that they fascinated Adrian, whose interest in them had 
been for a long time clearly though silently in evidence. But I feel 
a certain involuntary approval of the fact that the number thir- 
teen, so generally considered unlucky, stands at the head of the 
foregoing chapter. I am almost tempted to think that there is more 
than chance at work here. But seriously speaking, it was chance 
after all; for the reason that this whole complex of Halle Univer- 
sity life, just as in the earlier case of the Kretschmar lectures, does 
form a natural unity, and it was only out of consideration for the 
reader, who justly expects divisions and caesuras and places where 
he can draw breath, that I divided into several chapters matter 
which in the author’s real and candid opinion has no claim to such 
articulation. If I had the say, we should still be in Chapter XI, and 
only my tendency to compromise has got Dr. Scweppfuss his 
number XIII. I wish him joy of it; yes, I would willingly have 
given the unlucky numeral to the whole corpus of memories of 
our student years at Halle: for as I said before, the air of that 
town, the theological air, aid not suit me, and my guest visits to 
Adrian’s courses were a sacrifice which, with mixed feelings, I 
made to our friendship. 

To ours? I might better say to mine; for he did not in the least 
lay stress on my keeping at his side when we went to hear Kumpf 
or Schteppfuss; or think that I might be neglecting my own pro- 
gram. I did it of my own free will, only out of the imperative de- 
sire to hear what he heard, know what he learned, to “keep track” 
of him — for that always seemed to me highly necessary, though 
at the same time futile. A peculiarly painful combination that: 
necessity and futility. I was clear in my own mind that this was a 
life which one might indeed watch over, but not change, not in- 
fluence; an d my urge to keep a constant eye on my friend, not to 
stir from his side, had about it something like a premonition of 
the fact that it would one day be my task to set down an account 
of the impressions that moulded his early life. Certainly so much 

1 1 2 


is clear, that I did not go into the matters dealt with above just in 
order to explain why I was not particularly comfortable in Halle. 
My reason was the same as that which made me so explicit on the 
subject of Wendell Kretschmar’s Kaisersaschern lectures: namely, 
because I do and must stress the importance of making the reader 
a witness of Adrian’s experiences in the world of intellect and 

On the same ground I invite him to accompany us young sons 
of the Muses on the excursions we made in company, in the better 
times of the year, from Halle. As Adrian’s childhood inornate, 
and of course because, although not a theologian, I seemed to dis- 
play a decided interest in the field of religious study, I was wel- 
comed into the guest circle of the Christian Society Winfried and 
permitted to share in the excursions made by the group in order 
to enjoy the beauty of God’s green creation. 

They took place more frequently than we shared them. For I 
need hardly say that Adrian was no very zealous participant and 
his membership was more a matter of form than of punctual per- 
formance of activities. Out of courtesy and to show his good will 
towards the organization, he had let himself be persuaded; but 
under various pretexts, mostly on account of his headaches, he 
stopped away this or that time from the gatherings which took 
the place of the student “beer evenings.” Even after a year or 
more he had got so little upon the “frere et cochon ” footing with 
the seventy members that he did not manage to call them all by 
their right names or address them “in the singular.” But he was 
respected among them. The shouts that greeted him when, I must 
almost say on rare occasions, he appeared at a session in the smoke- 
filled private room in Miitze’s tavern, did contain a little fun at the 
expense of his supposed misanthropy; but they expressed genuine 
pleasure as well. For the group esteemed the part he played in 
their theological and philosophical debates, to which, without 
leading them, he would often throw in a remark and give an in- 
teresting turn. They were particularly pleased with his musical 
gift, which was useful because he could accompany the customary 
glees better than the others who tried it, with more animation and 
a fuller tone. Abo he would oblige the assembly with a solo, a 
toccata of Bach, a movement of Beethoven or Schumann, at the 
instance of the leader, Baworinski, a tall dark lean person, with 
drooping lids and mouth puckered as though to whistle. Some- 
times Adrian would even sit down unasked in the society’s room 
at the piano, whose dull flat tone was strongly reminiscent of the 
inadequate instrument on which Wendell Kretschmar had im- 



parted his knowledge to us in the hall of the Common Weal, and 
lose himself in free, experimental play. This especially happened 
before the beginning of a sitting, whilst the company were gath- 
ering. He had a way, I shall never forget it, of coming in, casually 
greeting the company, and then, sometimes without taking off his 
hat and coat, his face drawn with concentration, going straight to 
the piano, as though that alone were his goal. With a strong at- 
tack, bringing out the transition notes, with lifted brows, he 
would try chords, preparations, and resolutions which he may 
have excogitated on the way. But this rushing at the piano as 
though for refuge: it looked as though the place and its occu- 
pants frightened him; as though he sought shelter — actually -within 
himself — from a bewildering strangeness into which he had come. 

Then if he went on playing, dwelling on a fixed idea, changing 
and loosely shaping it, some one of those standing round, perhaps 
little Probst, a typical student, blond, with half-long, oily hair, 
would ask: 

“What is that?” 

“Nothing,” answered the player, with a short shake of the head, 
njore like the gesture with which one shakes off a fly. 

“How can it be nothing,” the other answered back, “since' you 
are playing it?” 

“He is improvising/’ explained the tallBaworinski sensibly. 

“Improvising!” cried Probst, honestly startled, and peered with 
his pale blue eyes at Adrian’s forehead as though he expected it to 
be glowing with fever. , 

Everybody burst out laughing, Adrian as well, letting his closed 
hands rest on the keyboard and bowing his head over them. 

“Oh, Probst, what an ass you are!” said Baworinski. “He is 
making up, can’t you understand? He just thought of that this 
very minute ” 

“How can he think up so many notes right and left at once,” 
Probst defended himself, “and how can he say ‘It is nothing’ of 
something he is actually playing? One surely cannot play what 

“Oh, yes,” said Baworinski mildly. “One can play what does 
not yet exist.” 

I can still hear a certain Deutschlin, Konrad Deutschlin, z ro- 
bust fellow with hair hanging in strings on his forehead, adding: 
“And everything was once nothing, my good Probst, and then be- 
came something.” 

, “I can assure you,” said Adrian, “that it really was nothing, in 
every sense of the word.” 


1 14 

He had been bent over with laughter, but now he lifted his 
head and you could see by his face that it was no easy matter: 
that he felt exposed. I recall that there now ensued a lengthy dis- 
cussion on the creative element, led by Deutschlin and by no 
means uninteresting. The limitations were debated, which this 
conception had to tolerate, by virtue of culture, tradition, imita- 
tion, convention, pattern. Finally the human and creative element 
was theologically recognized, as a far, reflected splendour of di- 
vinely existent power; as an echo of the first almighty - summons 
to being, and the productive inspiration as in any case coming 
from above. 

Moreover, and quite in passing, it was pleasant to me that I too, 
admitted from the profane faculty, could contribute when ashed 
to the entertainment with my viol d’amore. For music was impor- 
tant in this circle, if only in a certain way, rather vaguely and as 
it were on principle: it was thought of as an art coming from 
God, one had to have “relations” with it, romantic and devout, 
like one’s relations with nature. Music, nature, and joyous wor- 
ship, these were closely related and prescribed ideas in the Win- 
fried. When I referred to “sons of the Muses,” the phrase, which 
to some perhaps would seem hardly suitable for students of the- 
ology, none the less found its justification in this combination of 
feeling, in the free and relaxed spirit, the clear-eyed contempla- 
tion of the beautiful, which characterized these tours into the 
heart of nature, to which I now return. 

Two or three times in the course of our four terms at Halle 
they were undertaken in corpore, and Baworinski summoned up 
all the seventy members of Winfried. Adrian and I never joined 
these mass enterprises. But single groups, more intimately con- 
nected, also made similar excursions and these we repeatedly 
joined, in company with a few of the better sort There was bur 
leader himself; the sturdy Deutschlin; then a certain Dungersheim, 
Carl von Teudeben, and some others, named respectively Hub- 
meyer, Mattfiaeus Arzt, and Schappeler. I recall their names and 
to some extent their faces; it were superfluous to describe them. 

The neighbourhood of Halle is a sandy plain, admittedly with- 
out charm. But a train conveys you in a few hours up the Saale 
into lovely Thuringia, and there, mostly at Naumburg or Apolda 
(the region where Adrian’s mother was bom), we left the train 
arid set out with rucksacks and capes, on shanks’s mare, in all-day 
marches, eating in village inns or sometimes camping at the edge 
of a wood and spending the night in the hayloft of a peasant’s 
yard, waking in the grey dawn to wash and refresh ourselves at 


the long trough of a running spring. Such an interim form of liv- 
ing, the entry of city folk, brain workers, into the primitive coun- 
tryside and back to mother earth, with the knowledge, after all, 
that we must — or might — soon return to our usual and “natu- 
ral” sphere of middle-class comfort: such voluntary screwing 
down and simplification has easily, almost necessarily something 
artificial, patronizing, dilettante about it; of this we were humor- 
ously aware, and knew too that it was the cause of the good- 
natured, teasing grin with which many a peasant measured us on 
our request for his hayloft. But the kindly permission we got was 
due to our youth; for youth, one may say, makes the only proper 
bridge between the bourgeois and the state of nature; it is a pre- 
bourgeois state from which all student romance derives, the truly 
romantic period of life. To this formula the ever, intellectually 
lively Deutschlin reduced the subject when we discussed it in our 
loft before falling asleep, by the wan light of the stable lantern in 
the comer. We dealt with the matter of our present mode of ex- 
istence; and Deutschlin protested that it was poor taste for youth 
to explain youth: a form of life that discusses and examines itself 
thereby dissolves as form, and only direct and unconscious being 
has true existence. 

The statement was denied, Hubmeyer and Schappeler contra- 
dicted it and Teutleben too demurred. It might be still finer, they 
ironically said, if only age were to judge youth and youth could 
only be the subject of outside observation, as though it had no 
share of objective mind. But it had, when it concerned itself too, 
and must be allowed to speak as youth about youth. There was 
something that one called a feeling of life, which came near to 
being consciousness of self, and if it were true that thereby the 
form of life was abrogated, then there was no sense of life possi- 
ble at all. Mere dull unconscious being, ichthyosaurus-being, was 
no good, and today one must consciously not be wanting, one 
must assert one’s specific form of life with an articulate feeling of 
self. It had taken a long time for youth to be so recognized. 

“But the recognition has come more from pedagogy, that is 
from the old,” Adrian was heard to say, “rather than from youth 
itself. It found itself one day presented, by an era that also 
talks about the century of the child and has invented the eman- 
cipation of woman, all in all a veiy compliant era, with the attri- 
bute of an independent form of life; of course it eagerly agreed.” 

“No, Leverkuhn,” said Hubmeyer and Schappeler, and the oth- 
ers supported them. He was wrong, they said, at least for the most 
part. It had been the feeling of life in youth itself that by dint of 



becoming conscious had asserted itself against the world, whether 
or no the latter had not been quite undecided for recognition. 

“Not in the least,” said Adrian. “Not at all undecided. I sup- 
pose one only needed to say to the era: ‘I have this and this sense 
of life,’ and the era just made it a low bow. Youth Icnocked on an 
open door.” Moreover there was nothing to say against it, pro- 
vided youth and its time understood each other. 

“Why are you so supercilious, Leverkiihn? Don’t you find it 
good that today youth gets its rights in bourgeois society and that 
the values peculiar to the period of development are recognized?” 

“Oh, certainly,” said Adrian. “But I started, you started— that 
is, we started — with the idea — ” 

He was interrupted by a burst of laughter. I think it was Mat- 
thaeus Arzt who said: “That was perfect, Leverkiihn. You led up 
to a climax. First you leave us out altogether, then you leave your- 
self out, then you manage to say ‘we,’ but you obviously find it 
very difficult, you hard-boiled individualist!” 

Adrian rejected the epithet. It was quite false, he said, he was no 
individualist, he entirely accepted the community. 

“Theoretically, perhaps,” answered Arzt, “and condescend- 
ingly, with Adrian Leverkiihn excepted. He talks of youth con- 
descendingly too, as though he were not young himself; as though 
he were incapable of including himself and fitting in; as far as 
humility goes he knows veiy little about it.” 

“But we were not talking about humility,” Adrian parried, 
“rather, on the contrary, of a conscious sense of life.” Deutschlin 
suggested that they should let Adrian finish what he had to say. 

“That was all,” said the latter. “We started with the idea that 
youth has closer relations with nature than the mature man in a 
bourgeois society — something like woman, to whom also has been 
ascribed, compared with man, a greater nearness to nature. But I 
cannot follow. I do not find that youth stands on a particularly 
intimate footing with nature. Rather its attitude towards her is 
shy and reserved, actually strange. The human being comes to 
terms with his own natural side only with the years and only 
slowly gets accommodated to it. It is precisely youth, I mean 
more highly developed youth, that is more likely to shrink or 
be scornful, to display hostility. What do we mean by nature? 
Woods, meadows, mountains, trees, lakes, beauty of scenery? For 
all that, in my opinion, youth has much less of an eye than has 
the older, more tranquil man. The young one is by no means so 
disposed to see and enjoy nature. His eye is directed inwards, 
mentally conditioned, disinclined to the senses, in my opinion.” 


II 7 

“Quod demonstramus said somebody, very likely Dungers- 
heim — “we wanderers lying here in our straw, marching through 
the forests of Thuringia to Eisenach and the Wartburg.” 

“ ‘In my opinion,’ you always say,” another voice interjected. 
“You probably mean: ‘in my experience.’ ” 

“You were just reproaching me,” retorted Adrian, “for speak- 
ing condescendingly about youth and not including myself. Now 
all of a sudden you tell me I am making myself stand for it.” 

“Leverkuhn,” Deutschlin commented, “has his own thoughts 
about youth; but obviously he too regards it as a specific form of 
life, which must be respected as such; and that is the decisive fac- 
tor. I only spoke against youth’s discussion of itself in so far as 
that disintegrates the immediacy of life. But as consciousness of 
self it also strengthens life, and in this sense — I mean also to this 
extent — I call it good. The idea of youth is a prescriptive right 
and prerogative of our people, the German people; the others 
scarcely know it; youth as consciousness of self is as good as un- 
known to them. They wonder at the conscious bearing of Ger- 
man youth, to which the elder sections of the population give 
their assent, and even at their unbourgeois dress. Let them! Ger- 
man youth, precisely as youth, represents the spirit of the people 
itself, the German spirit, which is young and filled with the fu- 
ture: unripe, if you like, but what does unripe mean? German 
deeds were always done out of a certain mighty immaturity, and 
not for nothing are we the people of the Reformation. That too 
was a work of immaturity. Mature, that was the Florentine citi- 
zen of the Renaissance, who before he went to church said to 
his wife: “Well, let us now make our bow to popular error!” 
But Luther was unripe enough, enough of the people, of the 
German people, to bring in the new, the purified faith. Where 
would the world be if maturity were the last word? We shall in 
our unripeness vouchsafe it still some renewal, some revolution.” 

After these words of Deutschlin we were silent for a while. 
Obviously there in the darkness each young man turned over in 
his mind the feelings of personal and national youthfulness, min- 
gling as one. The phrase “mighty immaturity” had certainly a 
flattering ring for the most 

“If I only knew,” I can hear Adrian say, breaking the silence, 
“how it is we are so unripe, so young as you say we are, I mean 
as a people. After all, we have come as far as the others, and per- 
haps it is only our history, the fact that we were a bit late getting 
together and building up a common consciousness, which deludes 
us into a notion of our uncommon youthfulness.” 



“But it is probably something else,” responded Deutschlin. 
“Youth in the ultimate sense has nothing to do with political his- 
tory, nothing to do with history at all. It is a metaphysical en- 
dowment, an essential factor, a structure, a conditioning. Have 
you never heard of German Becoming, of German Wandering, 
of the endless migratmgs of the German soul? Even foreigners 
know our word ‘ Wanderlust .’ If you like, the German is the 
eternal student, the eternal searcher, among the peoples of the 
earth — ” 

“And his revolutions,” Adrian interpolated, with his short laugh, 
“are the puppet-shows of world history.” 

“Very witty, Leverkiihn. But yet I am surprised that your 
Protestantism allows you to be so witty. It is possible, if neces- 
sary, to take more seriously what I mean by youth. To be young 
means to be original, to have remained nearer to the sources of 
life; it means to be able to stand up and shake off the fetters of 
an outlived civilization, to dare — where others lack the courage 
—to plunge again into the elemental. Youthful courage, that is 
the spirit of dying and becoming, the knowledge of death and 
rebirth” ' v 

“Is that so German?” asked Adrian. “Rebirth was once called 
renascimento and went on in Italy. And ‘back to nature,’ that was 
firstprescribed in French.” 

“The first was a cultural renewal,” answered Deutschlin, “the 
second a sentimental pastoral play.” 

“Out of the pastoral play,” persisted Adrian, “came the French 
Revolution, and Luther’s Reformation was only an offshoot and 
ethical bypath of the Renaissance, its application to the field of 

“The field of religion, there you are. And religion is always 
something besides archaeological revival and an unheaval in social 
criticism. Religiosity, that is perhaps youth itself, it is the direct- 
ness, the courage and depth of the personal life, the will and the 
power, the natural and daemonic side of being, as it has come into 
our consciousness again through Kierkegaard, to experience it in 
full vitality and to live through it.” 

“Do you consider the feeling for religion a distinctively Ger- 
man gift?” asked Adrian. 

“In the sense I mean, as soulful youth, as spontaneity, as faith, 
and Diireresque knighthood between Death and Devil — cer- 

“And France, the land of cathedrals, whose head was the All- 


Christian King, and which produced theologians like Bossuet and 

“That was long ago. For centuries France has been marked out 
by history as the European power with the anti-Christian mission. 
Of Germany the opposite is true, and that you would feel and 
know, Leverkiihn, if you were not Adrian Leverkuhn— in other 
words, too cool to be young, too clever to be religious. With 
cleverness one may go a long way in the Church, but scarcely in 

“Many thanks, Deutschlin,” laughed Adrian. “In good old Ger- 
man words, as Ehrenfried Kumpf would say, you have given it to 
me straight, without any mealy-mouthing. I have a feeling that I 
shan’t go very far in the Church either; but one thing is certain, 
that I should not have become a theologian without her, I know 
of course that it is the most talented among you, those who have 
read Kierkegaard, who place truth, even ethical truth, entirely in 
the subjective, and reject with horror everything that savours of 
herd existence. But I cannot go with you in your radicalism— 
which certainly will not long persist, as it is a student licence— I 
cannot go with you in your separation, after Kierkegaard, of 
Church and Christianity. I see in the Church, even as she is today, 
secularized and reduced to the bourgeois, a citadel of order, an in- 
stitution for objective disciplining, canalizing, banking-up of the 
religious life, which without her would fall victim to subjectivist 
demoralization, to a chaos of divine and daemonic powers, to a 
world of fantastic uncannlness, an ocean of daemony. To separate 
Church and religion means to give up separating the religious 
from madness.” 

“Oh, come!” from several voices. But: 

“He is right,” Matthaeus Arzt declared roundly. The others 
called him the So cialis t, because the social was his passion. He was 
a Christian Socialist and often quoted Goethe’s saying that Chris- 
tianity was a political revolution which, having failed, became a 
moral one. Political, he said now, it must again become, that is to 
say social: that was the true and only means for the disciplining 
of the religious element, now in danger of a degeneration which 
Leverkiihn had not so badly described. Religious socialism, re- 
ligiosity linked with the social, that was it; for everything de- 
pended on finding the tight link, and the theonomic sanction 
must be united with the social, bound up with the God-given 
task of social fulfilment. “Believe me,” he said, “it all depends on 
the development of a responsible industrial population, an inter- 



national nation of industry, which some day can form a right and 
genuine European economic society. In it all shaping impulses 
will lie, they lie in the germ even now, not merely for the techni- 
cal achievement of a new economic organization, not only to re- 
sult in a thorough sanitation of the natural relations of life, but 
also to found new political orders.” 

I repeat the ideas of these young people as they were uttered, 
in their own terminology, a sort of learned lingo, quite unaware 
how pompous they sounded, flinging about the stilted and pre- 
tentious phrases with artless virtuosity and self-satisfaction. “Nat- 
ural relations of life,” “theonomic sanctions,” such were their pre- 
ciosities. Certainly they could have put it all more simply, but 
then it would not have been their scientific-theological jargon. 
With gusto they propounded the “problem of being,” talked 
about “the sphere of the divine,” “the political sphere,” or “the 
academic sphere”; about the “structural principle,” “condition 
of dialectic tension,” “existential correspondences,” and so on. 
Deutschlin, with his hands clasped behind his head, now put the 
“problem of being” in the sense of the genetic origin of Arzt’s 
economic society. That was nothing but economic common sense, 
and nothing but this could ever be represented in the economic 
society. “But we must be clear on this point, Matthaeus,” said he, 
“that the social ideal of an economic social organization comes 
from autonomous thinking in its nature enlightening, in short 
from a rationalism which is still by no means grasped by the 
mighty forces either above or below the rational. You believe you 
can develop a just order out of the pure insight and reason of 
man, equating the just and the socially useful, and you think that 
out of it new political forms will come. But the economic sphere 
hi quite different from the political, and from economic expedi- 
ency to historically related political consciousness there is no di- 
rect transition. I don’t see why you fail to recognize that. Politi- 
cal. organization refers to the State, a kind and degree of control 
not conditioned by usefulness; wherein other qualities are repre- 
sented than those known to representatives of enterprises and sec- 
retaries of unions; for instance, honour and dignity. For such 
qualities, my dear chap, the inhabitants of the economic sphere 
do not contribute the necessary existential correspondences. 

“Ach, Deutschlin, what are you talking about?” said Arzt. “As 
modem sociologists we very well know that the State too is condi- 
tioned by utilitarian functions. There is the admi n istration of jus- 
tice and the preservation of order. And then after all we live in 
an economic age, the economic is simply the historical character 


1 2 1 

of this time, and honour and dignity do not help the State one 
jot, if it does not of itself have a grasp of the economic situation 
and know how to direct it.” 

Deutschlin admitted that. But he denied that useful functions 
were the essential objects and raisons d’etre of the State. The le- 
gitimacy of the State resided, he said, in its elevation, its sover- 
eignty, which thus existed independent of the valuations of indi- 
viduals, because it — very much in contrast to the shufflings of 
the Contrat Social — was there before the individual. The supra- 
individual associations had, that is, just as much original existence 
as the individual human beings, and an economist, for just that 
reason, could understand nothing of the State, because he under- 
stood nothing of its transcendental foundation. 

To which Teudeben added: 

“I am of course not without sympathy for the sodo-religious 
combination that Arzt is speaking for, it is anyhow better than 
none at all, and Matthaeus is only too right when he says that 
everything depends on finding the right combination. But to be 
right, to be at once political and religious, it must tie of the peo- 
ple, and what I ask myself is: can a new nationality rise out of 
an economic society? Look at die Ruhr: there you have your as- 
sembly centres of men, yet no new national cells. Travel in the 
local train from Leuna to Halle. You will see workmen sitting to- 
gether, who can talk very well about tariffs; but from their con- 
versation it does not appear that they have drawn any national 
strength from their common activity. In economics the nakedly 
finite rules more and more.” 

“But the national is finite too,” somebody else said, it was either 
Hubmeyer or Schappeler, I don’t know which. “As theologians 
we must not admit that the folk is anything eternal. Capacity for 
enthusiasm is very fine and a need for faith very natural to youth; 
but it is a temptation too, and one must look very hard at the 
new groupings, which today, when liberalism is dying off, are 
everywhere being presented, to see whether they have genuine 
substance, and whether the thing creating the bond is itself some- 
thing real or perhaps only the product of, let us say, structural 
romanticism, which creates for itself ideological connections in a. 
nominalistic not to say fictionalistic way. I think, or rather I am 
afraid, that the deified national State and the State regarded as a 
utopia are just such nominalistic structures; and the recognition of 
them, let us say the recognition of Germany, has something not 
binding about it because it has nothing to do with personal sub- 
stance and qualitative content. Nothing is asked about that, and 



when one says ‘Germany’ and declares that to be his connecting 
link, he does not need to validate it at all. He will be asked by no- 
body, not even by himself, how much Germanism he in fact and 
in a personal —that is, in a qualitative sense — represents and real- 
izes; or how far he is in a position to serve the assertion of a Ger- 
man form of life in the world. It is that which I call nominalism, 
or rather the fetish of names, which in my opinion is the ideologi- 
cal worship of idols.” 

“Good, Hubmeyer,” said Deutschlin. “All you say is quite 
right, and in any case I admit that your criticism has brought us 
closer to the problem. I 'disagreed with Matthaeus Arzt because 
the domination of the utilitarian principle in the economic field 
does not suit me; but I entirely agree with him that the theonomic 
sanction in itself, that is to say the religious in general, has some- 
thing formalistic and unobjective about it. It needs some kind of 
down-to-earth, empirical content or application or confirmation, 
some practice in obedience to God. And so now Arzt has chosen 
socialism and Carl Teutleben nationalism. These are the two be- 
tween which we have today to choose. I deny that there is an 
outbidding of ideologies, since today nobody is beguiled by the 
empty word ‘freedom.’ There are in fact just these two possibili- 
ties, of religious submission and religious realization: the social 
and the national. But as ill luck will have it, both of them have 
their drawbacks and dangers, and very serious ones. Hubmeyer 
has expressed himself very tellingly on a certain nominalistic hol- 
lowness and personal lack of substance so frequently evident in 
the acceptance of the national; and, generally speaking, one should 
add that it is futile to fling oneself into the arms of a reinvigorat- 
ing objectivism if it means nothing for the actual shaping of one’s 
personal life but is only valid for solemn occasions, among which 
indeed I count the intoxication of sacrificial death. To a genuine 
sacrifice two valuations and qualitative ingredients belong: that of 
the thing and that of the sacrificed .... But we have cases where 
the personal substance, let , us say, was very rich in Germanness 
and quite involuntarily objectivated itself also as sacrifice; yet 
where acknowledgment of the folk-bond not only utterly failed, 
but there was even a permanent and violent negation of it, so that 
the tragic sacrifice comisted precisely in the conflict between be- 
ing and confession. ... So much for tonight about the national 
sanction. As for the social, the hitch is that when everything in 
the economic field is regulated in the best possible manner, the 
problem of the meaning and fulfilment of existence and a worthy 
conduct of life is left open, just as open as it is today. Some day 



we shall have universal economic administration of the world, die 
complete victory of collectivism. Good; the relative insecurity of 
man due to the catastrophic social character of the capitalistic 
system will have disappeared; that is, there will have vanished 
from human life the last memory of risk and loss — and with it 
the intellectual problem. One asks oneself why then continue to 
live ” 

“Would you like to retain the capitalist system, Deutschlin,” 
asked Arzt — “because it keeps alive the memory of the insecurity 
of human life?” 

“No, I would not, my dear Arzt,” answered Deutschlin with 
some heat. “Still, I may be allowed to indicate the tragic antino- 
mies of which life is full.” 

“One doesn’t need to have them pointed out,” sighed Dungers- 
heim. “It is certainly a desperate situation, and the religious man 
asks himself whether the world really is the single work of a be- 
nevolent God and not rather a combined effort, I will not say 
with whom.” 

“What I should like to know,” remarked von Teudeben, “is 
whether the young of other nations lie about like us, plaguing 
themselves with problems and antinomies.” 

“Hardly,” answered Deutschlin contemptuously. “They have 
a much easier and more comfortable time intellectually.” 

“The Russian revolutionary youth,” Arzt asserted, “should be 
excepted. There, if I am not mistaken, there is a tireless discursive 
argumentation and a cursed lot of dialectic tension.” 

“The Russians,” said Deutschlin sententiously, “have profun- 
dity but no form. And in the west they have form but no pro- 
fundity. Only we Germans have both.” 

“Well, if that is not a nationalistic sanction!” laughed- Hub- 

“It is merely the sanction of an idea,” Deutschlin asserted. “It 
is the demand of which I speak. Our obligation is exceptional, cer- 
tainly not the average, for that we have already attained. What is 
and what ought to be — there is a bigger gulf between them with 
us tha n with others, simply because the ‘ought to be,’ the stand- 
ard, is so high.” 

“In all that,” Dungersheim warned us, “we probably ought not 
to consider the national, but rather to regard the complex of 
problems as bound up with the existence or modem man. But it 
is the case, that since the direct faith in being has been lost, which 
in earlier tunes was the result of being fixed in a pre-existent uni- 
versal order of things, I mean the ritually permeated regulations 



which had a certain definite bearing on the revealed truth . . . 
that since the decline of faith and the rise of modem society our 
relations with men and things have become endlessly complicated 
and refracted, there is nothing left but problems and uncertain- 
ties, so that the design for truth threatens to eqd in resignation 
and despair. The search rising from disintegration, for the begin- 
nings of new forces of order, is general; though one may also 
agree that it is particularly serious and urgent among us Germans, 
and that the others do not suffer so from historical destiny, either 
because they are stronger or because they are duller — ” 

“Duller,” pronounced von Teutleben. 

“That is what you say, Teutleben. But if we count to our hon- 
our as a nation our sharp awareness of the historical and psycho- 
logical complex of problems, and identify with the German char- 
acter the endeavour after new universal regulation, we are already 
on the point of prescribing for ourselves a myth of doubtful 
genuineness and not doubtful arrogance: namely, the national, with 
its structural romanticism of the warrior type, which is nothing 
but natural paganism with Christian trimmings and identifies 
Christus as ‘Lord of the heavenly hosts.’ But that is a position de- 
cisively threatened from the side of the demons. . . .” 

“Well, and?” asked Deutschlin. “Daemonic powers stand beside 
the order-making qualities in any vital movement.” 

“Let us call things by their names,” demanded Schappeler — or 
it might have been Hubmeyer. “The daemonic, the German word 
for that is the instincts. And that is just it: today even, along with 
the instincts, propaganda is made for claims to all sorts of sanc- 
tions, and that one too, I mean, it takes them in and trims up the 
old idealism with the psychology of instinct, so that there arises , 
the dazzling impression of a thicker density of reality. But just on 
that account the bid can be pure swindle.” 

At this point one can only say “and so on”; for it is time to put 
an end to the reproduction of that conversation — or of such con- 
versations. In reality it had no end, it went on deep into the night, 
on and on, with “bipolar position” and “historically conscious 
analysis,” with “extra-temporal qualities,” “ontological natural- 
ism,” “logical dialectic,” and “practical dialectic”: painstaking, 
shoreless, learned, tailing off into nothing — that is, into slumber, 
to which our leader Baworinski recommended us, for in the 
morning — as it already almost was — we should be due for an 
early start. That kind nature held sleep ready, to take up the con- 
versation and rock it in forgetfulness, was a grateful circum- 


stance, and Adrian, who had not spoken for a long time, gave it 
expression in a few words as we settled down. 

“Yes, good night, lucky we can say it. Discussions should al- 
ways be held just before going to bed, your rear protected by 
sleep. How painful, after an intellectual conversation, to have to 
go about with your mind so stirred up.” 

“That is just an escapist psychology,” somebody grumbled — 
and then the first sounds of heavy breathing filled our loft with 
its announcement of relaxation and surrender to the vegetative 
state; of that a few hours sufficed to restore youth’s elasticity. For 
next day along with physical activity and the enjoyment of natu- 
ral beauty, they would continue the usual theological and philo- 
sophical debates with almost interminable mutual instruction, op- 
position, challenge, and reply. It was the month of June, and the 
air was filled with the heavy scent of jasmine and elder-blossom 
from the gorges of the wooded heights that cross the Thuringian 
basin. Priceless it was to wander for days through the country- 
side, here almost free from industry, the well-favoured, fruitful 
land, with its friendly villages, in clusters of latticed buildings. 
Then coming out of the farming region into that of mostly graz- 
ing land, to follow the storied, beech- and pine-covered ridge 
road, the “Rennsteig,” which, with its view deep down into the 
Werra valley, stretches from the Frankenwald to Eisenach on the 
Horsel. It grew ever more beautiful, significant, romantic; and 
neither what Adrian had said about the reserve of youth in the 
face of nature, nor what about the desirability of being able to re- 
tire to slumber after intellectual discussion, seemed to have any 
cogency. Even to him it scarcely applied; for, except when his 
headaches made him silent, he contributed with animation to the 
daily talks; and if nature lured from him no very enthusiastic cries 
and he looked at it with a certain musing aloofness, I do not doubt 
that its pictures, rhythms, the melodies of its upper airs, pene- 
trated deeper into his soul than into those of his companions. It 
has even happened that some passage of pure, free beauty stand- 
ing out from the tense intellectuality of his work has later brought 
to my mind those days and the experiences we shared. 

Yes, they were stirring hours, days, and weeks. The refresh- 
ment of the out-of-doors life, and the otygen in the air, the land- 
scape, and the historical impressions, thrilled these young folk and 
raised their spirits to a plane where thought moved lavishly in free 
experimental flight as it will at that time of life. In later, more arid 
hours of an after-university professional career, even an intel- 



lectual one, there would be scarcely any such occasion. Often I 
looked at them during their theological and philosophical debates 
and pictured to myself that to some among them their Winfried 
period might m later years seem the finest time of their lives. I 
watched them and I watched Adrian, with the clear perception 
that it would not be so with him. I, as a non-theologian, was a 
guest among them; he, though a theologian, was even more of 
one. Why? I felt, not without a pang, the foreordained gulf be- 
tween his existence and that of these striving and high-purposed 
youths. It was the difference of the life-curve between good, yes, 
excellent average, which was destined to return from that rov ing , 
seeking student life to its bourgeois courses, and the other, invisi- 
bly singled out, who would never forsake the hard route of the 
mind, would tread it, who knew whither, and whose gaze, whose 
attitude, never quite resolved in the fraternal, whose inhibitions 
in his personal relations made me and probably others aware that 
he himself divined this difference. 

By the beginning of his fourth semester I had indications that 
my friend was thinking of dropping his theological course, even 
before the first exams. 


Adrian’s relations with Wendell Kretschmar had never been bro- 
ken off or weakened. The young “studiosus” of the divine science 
saw the musical mentor of his school-days in every vacation, when 
he came to Kaisersaschem; visited him and consulted him in the 
organist’s quarters in the Cathedral, met him at Uncle Leverkiihn’s 
house, and persuaded the parents to invite him once or twice to 
Buchel for the week-end, where they took extended walks and 
also got Jonathan Leverkiihn to show the guest Chladni’s sound- 
patterns and the devouring drop. Kretschmar stood very well 
with the host of Buchel, now getting on in years. His relations 
with Frau Elsbeth were more formal if by no means actually 
strained. Perhaps she was distressed by his stutter, which just for 
that reason got worse in her presence and in direct conversation 
with her. It was, odd, after all. In Germany music enjoys that re- 
spect among the people which in France is given to literature; 
among us nobody is put off or embarrassed, uncomfortably im- 
pressed, or moved to disrespect or mockery by the fact that a man 
is a musician; so I am convinced that Elsbeth Leverkiihn felt en- 
tire respect for Adrian’s elder friend, who, moreover, practised 
his activity as a salaried man in the service of the Church. Yet 
during the two and a half days which I once spent with him and 
Adrian at Buchel, I observed in her bearing towards the organist 
a certain reserve and restraint, held in check but not quite done 
away by her native friendliness. And he; as I said, responded with 
a worsetiing of his impediment amounting a few times almost to 
a calamity. It is hard to say whether it was that he felt her unease 
and mistrust or whatever it was, or because on his own side, spon- 
taneously, he had definite inhibitions amounting to shyness and 
embarrassment in her presence. 

As for me, I felt sure that, the peculiar tension between Kretsch- 
mar and Adrian’s mother had reference to Adrian; I divined this 
because in the silent struggle that went on I stood in my own 
feeling between the two parties, inclining now to the one and 
now to the other. What Kretschmar wanted, what he talked 


about on those walks with Adrian, was clear to me, and privately 
my own wishes supported him. I thought he was right when, also 
in talk with me, he pleaded for the musical calling of his pupil, 
that he should become a composer, with determination, even with 
uigency. “He has,” he said, “the composer’s eye; he bends on mu- 
sic the look of the initiate, not of the vaguely enjoying outsider. 
His way of discovering thematic connections that the other kind 
of man does not see; of perceiving the articulation of a short ex- 
tract in the form of question and answer; altogether of seeing 
from the inside how it is made, confirms me in my judgment 
That he shows no productive impulse, does not yet write or 
naively embark upon youthful productions, is only to his credit; 
it is a question of his pride, which prevents him from producing 
epigonal music.” 

I could only agree with all that. But I could thoroughly under- 
stand as well the protective concern of the mother and often felt 
my solidarity with her, to the point of hostility to the other side. 
Never shall I forget a scene in the living-room at Buchel when we 
chanced to sit there together, the four of us: mother and son, 
Kretschmar and I. Elsbeth was in talk with the musician, who was 
puffing and blowing with his impediment; it was a mere chat, of 
which Adrian was certainly not the subject. She drew her son’s 
head to her as he sat beside her, in the strangest way, putting her 
arm about him, not round his shoulders but round his head, her 
hand on his brow, and thus, with the gaze of her black eyes di- 
rected upon Kretschmar and her sweet voice speaking to him, she 
leaned Adrian’s head upon her breast. 

But to return: it was not alone these meetings that sustained the 
relation between master and pupil. There was also frequent cor- 
respondence, an exchange, I believe every two weeks, between 
Halle and Kaisersaschem, about which Adrian from time to time 
informed me and of which I even got to see some part. It seemed 
that Kretschmar was considering taking a piano and organ class 
in the Hase private conservatoire in Leipzig, which next to the 
famous State Music School in that city was rejoicing in a growing 
reputation, constantly increased during the next ten years, up to 
the death of the capital musician Clemens Hase (it no longer 
plays any role, even if it still exists). I learned this fact in Michael- 
mas 1904. At the beginning of the next year Wendell accord- 
ingly left Kaisersaschem to take over his new position, and from 
then on the correspondence went forward between Halle and 
Leipzig, to and fro: Kretsehmar’s sheets covered on one side with 
large, scratching, spluttering letters; Adrian’s replies on rough 


yellow paper, in his regular, slightly old-fashioned, rather florid 
script, written, as one could see, with a round-hand pen. I saw a 
draft of one of them, very compactly written, like figures, full of 
fine additions and corrections — I had early become familiar with 
his way of writing and read it quite easily — and he also showed 
me Kretschmar’s reply to it. He did this, obviously, in order that 
I need not be too much surprised by the step he purposed to take 
when he should have actually settled on it. For that he had not as 
yet, was hesitating very much, doubting and examining himself, as 
the letter makes clear; he obviously wanted to be advised by me — 
God knows whether in a sense to encourage or to warn. 

There could not be and would not have been on my side any 
possibility of surprise, even if I had been faced with the fact with- 
out preparation. I knew what was on the way: whether it would 
actually come to pass was another question, but so much was 
clear to me too, that since Kretschmar’s move to Leipzig, his 
chances of getting his way were considerably improved. 

Adrian’s letter showed a more than average capacity to look at 
himself critically, and as a confession its ironic humility touched 
me very much. To his one-time mentor, now aspiring to be that 
again and much more, he set forth the scruples that held him back 
from a decision to change his profession and fling himself into the 
arms of music. He half-way admitted that theology, as an empiric 
study, had disappointed him; the reasons of course being to seek 
not in that revered science, nor with his academic teachers, but 
in himself. That was already plain from the fact that he certainly 
could not say what other, better choice he could then have made. 
Sometimes, when he took counsel with himself on the possibilities 
of a shift, he had, during these years, considered choosing mathe- 
matics, in which, when he was at school, he had always found 
“good entertainment” (his very words) . But with a sort of horror 
at himself he saw it coming, that if he made this discipline his 
own, bound himself over, identified himself with it, he would 
very soon be disillusioned, bored; get as sick and tired of it as 
though he “had ladled it in with a cooking-spoon” (this gro- 
tesque simile also I recall literally). “I cannot conceal from your 
respected self,” he wrote (for he sometimes fell into old-fashioned 
phrases and spellings), “neither you nor myself, that with your 
apprendista it is a god-forsaken case. It is not just an everyday 
thing with me, I would not lain it thus; it addresses itself to your 
verye bowells of compassion more than makes your heart leap up 
for joy.” He had, he said, received from God the gift of a “to- 
ward wit”; from childhood up and with less than common pain 



had grasped everything offered in his education — too easily, “be- 
like,” for any of it to win his proper respect. Too easily for 
blood and brains ever to have got properly wanned up for the 
sake of a subject and by effort over it. “I fear,” he wrote, “dear 
and beloved friend and master, I am a lost soul, a black sheep; I 
have no warmth. As the Gode Boke hath it, they shall be cursed 
and spewed out of the mouth who are neither cold nor warm but 
lukewarm. Lukewarm I should not call myself. I am cold out of 
all question; but in my judgment of myself I would pray to dis- 
sent from the taste of that Power whose it is to apportion blessing 
and cursing.” 

He went on: 

“Oddly enough, it was best at the grammar school, there I was 
still pretty much in the right place, because in the upper forms 
they deal out the gretest variety of thinges, one after the other, 
changing the subject from one five-and-forty minutes to the next 
— in other words there was still no profession. But even those five- 
and-forty minutes were too long, they bored me — and boredom 
is the coldest thing in the world. After fifteen minutes at most I 
had all that the good man chammed over with the other boys for 
thirty more. Reading the authors, I read on further; I had done so 
at home, and if I mought not always give answer, ’twas but be- 
cause I was already in the next lesson. Three quarters of an hour 
of Anabasis was too much of one thing for my patience, in sign 
thereof my mygryms came on” (he meant his headaches) “and 
never did they procede from fatigue due to effort, but from 
satiety, from cold boredom, and, dear master and friend, sith I 
no longer am a young bachelor springing from branch to branch 
but have married me with one plot and one profession, it has 
truly gone hevyli indeed with me. 

“In feith, ye will not believe that I hold myself too good for 
any profession. On the contrary, I am pitiful of that I make mine 
own, and ye may see in that an homage, a declaration of love for 
music, a special position towards her, that in her case I should feel 
quite too deeply pitiful. 

“You will ask if it was not so with theology? But I submitted 
thereunto; not so much, though there was somewhat of that too 
therein, that I saw in it the highest of the sciences; but for that I 
would fain humble myself, bow the knee, and be chastened, to 
castigate my cold contumacy, in short out of contritio. I wanted 
the sack of heyre, the spiked girdle beneath. I did what those did 
in earlier times who knocked at the gate of the cloister of strict 
observance. It las its absurd and comic sides, this professionally 


cloistered life, but assaye to understand that a secret terror warned 
me not to forsake it, to put the Scriptures under the bench and 
scape into the art to which you introduced me, and about which 
I feel that for me to practise it were shrewidness and shame. 

“Ye think me called to this art, and give me to understand that 
the ‘step aside’ to her were no long one. My Lutheranism agrees, 
for it sees in theology and music neighbouring spheres and close 
of kin; and besides, music has always seemed to me personally a 
magic marriage between theology and the so diverting mathe- 
matic. Item, she has much of the laboratory and the insistent ac- 
tivity of the alchemists and nigromancers of yore, which also 
stood in the sign of theology, but at the same time in that of 
emancipation and apostasy; it was apostasy, not from the feith, 
that was never possible, but in the feith; for apostasy is an act of 
feith and everything is and happens in God, most of all the falling 
from Him.” 

My quotations are very nearly literal, even where they are not 
quite so. I can rely very well on my memory, and besides I com- 
mitted much of it to paper at once after reading the draft, and in 
particular this about apostasy. 

He then excused himself for the digression, which scarcely was 
one, and went on to the practical question of what branch of 
musical activity he should envisage in case he yielded to Kretsch- 
mar’s pressure. He pointed out that he was useless, from the start 
and admittedly, for solo virtuosity. “It pricketh betimes that will 
be a sharp thorn,” he wrote, quoting Kumpf, and that he had 
come too late into contact with the instrument, or even with the 
idea, from which followed, of course, the clear conclusion that 
he lacked any instinctive urge in that direction. He had gone to 
the keyboard not out of desire to master it, but out of private 
curiosity about music itself; he was entirely lacking in the gypsy 
blood of the concert artist, who produced himself before the pub- 
lic through music, music being the occasion he took. To that went 
mental premises which he did not satisfy: desire for love-affairs 
with the crowd, for laurel wreaths and bowing and kowtowing 
to applause. He avoided the adjectives which would actually have 
made dear what he meant: he did not say that even if he had not 
come to it too late, he was too self-conscious, too proud, too diffi- 
cult, too solitary, to be a virtuoso. 

These same objections, he went on, stood in the way of a career 
as a conductor. As little as a keyboard juggler could he see him- 
self as a baton-waving, frock-coated prima donna of the orches- 
tra, an interpreting ambassador and gala-representative of music 



on earth. But now there did escape him a word that belonged in 
the same class with those which 1 just said would have fitted the 
case he spoke of being unsocial; he called himself that, and 
meant no compliment. This quality, he judged, was the expres- 
sion of a want of warmth, sympathy, love, and it was very much 
m question whether one could, lacking them, be a good artist, 
which after all and always means being a lover and beloved of 
the world. Now putting these two aside, the solo artist and the 
conductor, what was left? Forsooth, music herself, the promise 
and vow to her, the hermetic laboratory, the gold-kitchen: com- 
position. “Wonderful! Ye will initiate me, friend Albertus Mag- 
nus, into the mysteries of theory and certes I feel, I know afore- 
hand, as already I know a little from experience, I shalbe no 
backward adeptus. I shall grasp all the shifts and controls, and 
that easily, in truth because my mind goeth to' meet them, the 
ground is prepared, it already nourishes some seed therein. I will 
refine on the prima materia , in that I add to it the magisterium 
and with spirit and fire drive the matter through many limbecs 
and retorts for the refining thereof. What a glorious mystery! I 
know none higher, deeper, better; none more thrilling, or occult; 
none whereto less persuasion were necessary to persuade. 

“And yet, why does an inward voice warn me: ‘O homo fuge ’? 
I cannot give answer unto the question very articulately. Only 
this much I can say: I fear to make promises to art, because I 
doubt whether my nature — quite aside from the question of a 
gift — is calculated to satisfy her; because I must disclaim the ro- 
bust naivete which, so far as I can see — among other things, and 
not least among them — pertaineth to the nature of the artist. In 
its place my lot is a quickly satisfied intelligence, whereof, I sup- 

r ise, I may speak, because I call heaven and hell to witness that 
am not vain of it; it is that, together with the accompanying 
proneness to fatigue and disgust (with headake), which is the 
ground of my fear and concern. It will, it ought to, decide me to 
refrain. Mark me, good master, young as I am I am wel enow 
seen therein to know, and should not be your pupil did I not, that 
it passeth far beyond the pattern, the canon, the tradition, beyond 
what one learns from others, the trick, the technique. Yet it is 
undeniable that there is a lot of all that in it, and I see it coming 
(for it lieth also in my nature, for good or ill, to look beyond) 
that I am embarrassed at the insipidness which is the supporting 
structure, the conditioning solid substance of even the work of 
genius, acthe elements thereof which are training and common 



property, at use and wont in achieving the beautiful; I blush at all 
that, weary thereof, get head-ake therefrom, and that right early. 

“How stupid, how pretentious it would be to ask- ‘Do you un- 
derstand that 5 ’ For how should you not? It goes like this, when 
it is beautiful, the cellos intone by themselves, a pensive, melan- 
choly theme, which questions the folly of the world, the where- 
fore of all the struggle and striving, pursuing andplaguing — all 
highly expressive and decorously philosophical. The cellos en- 
large upon this riddle awhile, head-shaking, deploring, and at a 
certain point in their remarks, a well-chosen point, the chorus of 
wind instruments enters with a deep full breath that makes your 
shoulders rise and fall, in a choral hymn, movingly solemn, richly 
harmonized, and produced with all the muted dignity and mildly 
restrained power of the brass. Thus the sonorous melody presses 
on up to nearly the height of a climax, which, in accordance with 
the law of economy it avoids at first, gives way, leaves open, sinks 
away, postpones, most beautifully lingers; then withdraws and 
gives place to another theme, a songlike, simple one, now jesting, 
now grave, now popular, apparently brisk and robust by nature 
but sly as you make them, and for someone with some subtile 
cleverness in the art of thematic analysis and transformation it 
proves itself amazingly pregnant and capable of utter refinement. 
For a while this little song is managed and deployed, cleverly and 
charmingly, it is taken apart, looked at in detail, varied, out of it 
a delightful figure in the middle register is led up into the most 
enchanting heights of fiddles and flutes, lulls itself there a little, 
and when it is at its most artful, then the mild brass has again the 
word with the previous choral hymn and comes into the fore- 
ground. The brass does not start from the beginning as it did the 
first time, but as though its melody had already been there for a 
while; and it continues, solemnly, to that climax from which it 
wisely refrained the first time, in order that the surging feeling, 
the Ah-h-effect, might be the greater: now it gloriously bestrides 
its theme, mounting unchecked, with weighty support from the 
passing notes on the tuba, and then, looking back, as it were, with 
dignified satisfaction on the finished achievement, sings itself dec- 
orously to the end. 

“Dear friend, why do I have to laugh? Can a man employ the 
traditional or sanctify the trick with greater genius? Can one with 
shrewder sense achieve the beautiful? And I, abandoned wretch, 
I have to laugh, particularly at the grunting supporting notes of 
the bombardone, Bum, bum, bum, bang! I may nave tears in my 



eyes at the same time, but the desire to laugh is irresistible — I 
have always had to laugh, most damnably, at the most mysterious 
and impressive phenomena. I fled from this exaggerated sense of 
the comic into theology, in the hope that it would give relief to 
the tickling — only to find there too a perfect legion of ludicrous 
absurdities. Why does almost everything seem to me like its own 
parody 5 Why must I think that almost all, no, all the methods 
and conventions of art today are good for parody only 5 — These 
are of course rhetorical questions, it was not that I still expected 
an answer to them. But such a despairing heart, such a damp 
squib as I am, you consider as ‘gifted 5 for music and summon me 
to you and to its service, instead of rather leaving me humbly to 
tarry with God and theology 5 ” 

Thus Adrian’s confession in avoidance. And Kretschmar’s re- 
ply* that document I have not by me. It was not found among 
the papers Leverkuhn left. He must have preserved it for a while 
and then in some moving to Munich, to Italy, to Pfeiffering, it 
must have got lost. But I retain it in my memory almost as pre- 
cisely as Adrian’s own, even though I made no notes on it. The 
stutterer stuck by his summons, his monitions and allurements. 
Not a word in Adrian’s letter, he wrote, could have made him for 
a moment falter in his conviction that it was music for which fate 
destined the writer, after which he hankered as music after him, 
and against which, half cowardly, half capricious, he had hidden 
himself behind these half-true analyses of his character and con- 
stitution, as previously behind theology, his first and absurd 
choice. “Affectation, Adri — and the increase in your headaches 
is the punishment for it.” His sense of the ludicrous of which he 
boasted, or complained, would suit with art far better than with 
his present unnatural occupation, for art, on the contrary, could 
use it; could, in general, much better use the repellent character- 
istics he attributed to himself than he believed or made pretence 
that he believed it could. He, Kretschmar, would leave the ques- 
tion open, how far Adrian was accusing himself in order to ex- 
cuse his corresponding accusations against art; for this painting 
art as a marriage with the mob, as kiss-throwing, gala-posturing, 
as a bellows to blow up the emotions, was a facile misconstruction 
and a wilful one too. What he was trying to do was to excuse 
himself on account of certain characteristics, while these, on die 
other hand, were the very ones art demanded. Art needed just his 
sort today — and the joke, the hypocritical, hide-and-seek joke, 
was that Adrian knew it perfectly well. The coolness, the “quickly 
satisfied intelligence,” the eye for the stale and absnrd, the early 



fatigue, the capacity for disgust— all that was perfectly calculated 
to make a profession of the talent bound up with it. Why? Be- 
cause it belonged only m part to the private personality; for the 
rest it was of an extra-individual nature, the expression of a col- 
lective feeling for the historical exhaustion and vitiation of the 
means and appliances of art, the boredom with them and the 
search for new ways. “Art strides on,” Kretschmar wrote, “and 
does so through the medium of the personality, which is the prod- 
uct and the tool of the time, and in which objective and subjective 
motives combine indistinguishably, each taking on the shape of 
the others. The vital need of art for revolutionary progress and 
the coming of the new addresses itself to whatever vehicle has the 
strongest subjective sense of the staleness, fatuity, and emptiness 
of the means still current. It avails itself of the apparently unvital, 
of that personal satiety and intellectual boredom, that disgust at 
seeing ‘how it works’; that accursed itch to look at things in the 
light of their own parody; that sense of the ridiculous— I tell you 
that the will to life and to living, growing art puts on the mask 
of these faint-hearted personal qualities, to manifest itself therein, 
to objectivate, to fulfill itself. Is that too much metaphysics for 
you 5 But it is just precisely enough of it, precisely the truth, the 
truth which at bottom you know yourself. Make haste, Adrian, 
and decide. I am waiting. You are already twenty, and you have 
still a good many tricks of the trade to get used to, quite hard 
enough to stimulate you. It is better to get a headache from exer- 
cises in canons, fugues, and counterpoint than from confuting the 
Kantian confutation of the evidence for the existence of God. 
Enough of your theological spinsterhood! 

‘Virginity is well, yet must to motherhood; 

Unear’d she is a soil unfructified for good.’ ” 

With this quotation from the “Cherubinic Wandersmann” the 
letter ended, and when I looked up from it I met Adrian’s subtle 

“Not badly parried, don’t you think?” he asked. 

“By no means,” said I. 

“He knows what he wants,” he went on, “and it is rather hu- 
miliating that I do not.” 

“I think you do too,” I said. For indeed in his own letter I had 
not seen an actual refusal, nor indeed had I believed he wrote it 
out of affectation. That is certainly not the right word for the 
will to make harder for oneself a hard decision, by deepening it 
with self-distrust. I already saw with emotion that the decision 



would be made; and it had become the basis for the ensuing con- 
versation about our immediate futures. In any case, our ways 
were parting. Despite serious short-sightedness I was declared fit 
for military service, and intended to put m my year at once; I 
was to do it in Naumburg with the regiment of the 3rd Field 
Artillery. Adrian, on whatever grounds — narrow-chestedness, or 
his habitual headaches — was indefinitely excused, and he planned 
to spend some weeks at Buchel, in order, as he said, to discuss 
with his parents his change of profession. It came out that he 
would put it to them as though it involved merely a change of 
university. In a way, that was how he put it to himself too. He 
would, so he would tell them, bring his music more into the fore- 
ground, and accordingly he was going to the city where the musi- 
cal mentor of his school-days was working. What did not come 
out was that he was giving up theology. In fact, his actual inten- 
tion was to enroll himself again at the university and attend lec- 
tures in philosophy in order to make his doctorate in that school. 

At the beginning of the winter semester, in 1905, Leverkuhn 
went to Leipzig. 


It scarcely needs saying that our good-bye was outwardly cool 
and reserved. There was hardly even a pressure of the hand, an 
exchange of looks. Too often in our young days we had parted 
and met again for us to have kept the habit of shaking hands. He 
left Halle a day earlier than I; we had spent the previous evening 
together at the theatre, without any of the Winfried group. He 
was leaving next morning, and we said good-bye on the street, as 
we had hundreds of times before. I could not help marking my 
farewell by calling him by name — his first name, as was natural 
to me, but he did not follow suit. “So long!” he said, that was all; 
he had the phrase from Kretschmar, and used it half-mockingly, 
as a quotation, having in general a definite liking to quote, to 
make word-plays on something or someone. He added some jest 
about the soldier’s life I was now to pursue, and we went our 
different ways. 

He was right not to take the separation seriously. After at most 
a year, when my military service should be finished, we would 
come together, one place or another. Still, it was in a way a break, 
the end of one chapter, the beginning of another; and if he 
seemed not to be conscious of the fact, I was, with a certain pang, 
well aware of it. By going to him in Halle I had, so to speak, pro- 
longed our school-days; we had lived there much as in Kaisers- 
aschem. Even the time when I was a student and he still at school 
I cannot compare with the change now impending. Then I had 
left him behind in the familiar frame of the gymnasium and the 
paternal city and had continued to return thither. Only now, it 
seemed to me, did our lives become detached, only now were 
both of us beginning on our own two feet. Now there would be 
an end to what seemed to me so necessary, though so futile withal; 
I can but describe it in the words I used above: I should no longer 
know what he did or experienced, no more be able to be near 
him, to keep watch over him. I must leave his side just at the very 
moment when observation of his life, although it could certainly 
change nothing in it, seemed most highly desirable, I mean when 



he abandoned the scholarly career, “put the Bible under the 
bench,” to use his own words, and flung himself into the arms of 

It was a significant decision, one pregnant with fate. In a way 
it cancelled the more immediate past ana linked up with moments 
of our common life lying far, far back, the memory of which I 
bore in my heart: the hour when I had found the lad experiment- 
ing with his uncle’s harmonium, and still further back, our canon* 
singing with Hanne the stable-girl, under the linden tree. It made 
my heart lift up for joy, this decision of his — and at the same 
time contract with fear. I can only compare the feeling with the 
catch in the breath that a child feels in a swing as it flies aloft, the 
mingled exultation and terror. The rightness of the change, its in- 
evitability, the correction of the false step, the misrepresentation 
theology had been: all that was clear to me, and I was proud that 
my friend no longer hesitated to acknowledge the truth. Persua- 
sion, indeed, had been necessary to bring him to it; and extraor- 
dinary as were the results I expected from the change, and despite 
all my joyful agitation, I took comfort from being able to tell 
myself that I had had no part in the persuasions — or at most had 
supported them by a certain fatalistic attitude, and a few words 
such as “I think you know, yourself.” 

Here I will follow on with a letter I had from him two months 
after I entered the service at Naumburg. I read it with feelings 
such as might move a mother at a communication of that kind 
from her son — only that of course one withholds that sort of 
thing from one’s mother, out of propriety. I had written to him 
some three weeks before, ignorant of his address, in care of Herr 
Wendell Kretschmar at the Hase conservatoire; had described my 
new, raw state and begged him, if ever so briefly, to tell me how 
he lived and fared in the great city, and about the program of 
his studies. I preface his reply only by saying that its antiquated 
style was of course intended as a parody of grotesque Halle ex- 
periences and the language idiosyncrasies of Ehrenfried Kumpf. 
At the same time it both hides and reveals his own personality and 
stylistic leanings and his employment of the parodic, in a highly 
characteristic and indicative way. 

He wrote: 

Leipzig, Friday after 
Purificationis 1905 
In the Peterstrasse, house the 27th 
Most honourable, most illustrious, learned, and well-beloved 
Magister and Ballisticus! 

We thank you kindly for the courtesy of your communi- 



cation and the highly diverting tidings touching your present ar- 
rangements, so full of discipline, dullness, and hardship as they be. 
Your tales of the whip-cracking and springing to order, the curry- 
combing and spit-and-polish, have made us heartily to laugh: 
above all that one of the under-officer which even as he planes 
and polishes and breketh to harness, yet holdeth so much in esti- 
mation your high education and grete learning that in the canteen 
you must needs mark off for him all the metres according' to feet 
and mor<e because this kind of learning seemeth to him the high 
prick of intellectual aristocracy. In requital thereof we will an we 
hold out counter thee with some right folish facecies and horse- 
play which we fell into here that you too mayst have to wonder 
and to laugh thereat. Albeit first our friendly hert and good will, 
trusting and playing that thou maist almost joyfully bear the rod 
and in tract of time be so holpen thereby, till at the last in braid 
and buttons thou goest forth as a reserve sergeant major. 

Here the word is: Trust God, honour the King, do no man 
any nuisance. On the Pleisse, the Parthe, and the Elster existence 
and pulse are manifestly other then, on the Saale; for here many 
people be gathered togyder, more then seven hundred thousand; 
which from the outset bespeaketh a certain sympathy and toler- 
ance, as the Lord hath already for Nineveh’s sin a knowing and 
humorous eye when He says excusingly; “Such a great city, 
therein more than a hundred thousand men.” Thus maist thou 
think how among seven hundred thousand forbearance is coun- 
selled when in die autumn fair-times whereof I as novice had 
even now a taste, more stream from all parts of Europe, and from 
Persia, Armenia, and other the Asiatic lands. 

Not as though this Nineveh particularly doth like me, ’tis 
not the fairest city of my fatherland, Kaisersaschem is fairer; yet 
may easier be both fair and stately, sithence it needs but be olde 
and quiet and have no pulse. Is gorgeously builded, my Leipzig, of 
clear stone as out of a costly box of toy bricks. The common peo- 
ple’s tongue is a devilishly lewd speech so that one shrinks before 
every booth before one bargains. It is even as though our mildly 
slumbering Thuringian were woke up to a seven-hundred-thou- 
sand-man impudence and smattered abhominably, jaw stuck out 
— horrible, dreadful, but, God keep us, certes meaning no harm, 
and mixed with self-mockery which they can graunt unto them- 
selves on the ground of their world-pulse. Centrum musica, cen- 
trum of the printing trade and the book rag-fair, illustrious uni- 
versitie, albeit scattered in respect to buildings, for the chief 
building is in Augustusplatz, the library hard by the Cloth Hall, 
and to the divers faculties long severall college buildings, as the 



Red House on the Promenade to the philosophic, to the juristic 
the Collegium Beat<e Virgmis, in my Peterstrasse, where I found 
forthwith fresh from the station, on the next way into the town, 
fitting lodging and accommodation. Came early m the afternoon, 
left my fardels at the station, got hither as directed, read the no- 
tice on the ram-pipe, rang, and was straightaway agreed with the 
fat landlady with the fiendish brogue on the two rooms on the 
ground floor. Still so early that I had on that same day looked 
over almost the whole town in the first flush of arrival — this time 
really with a guide, to wit the porter who fetched my portmanteo 
from the station, hence at the last the farce and foolery of which 
I spake and may still reherse. 

The fat frau made no bones about the clavicymbal, they 
are used to that here. Sha’n’t be assaulting her ears too much for 
I am chiefly working on theory, with books and pen and paper, 
the harmoniam and the punctum contra punctum, quite off my 
own bat, I mean under the supervision and general direction of 
amicus Kretschmar, to whom every few days I take that I have 
practised and wrought, for his criticism, good or bad. Good soul 
was uncommon glad that I came, and embraced me for that I was 
not minded to betray his hope. And he will hear not of my going 
to the conservatoire, either the big one or the Hase, where he 
teaches; it were, he says, no atmosphere for me, I must rather do 
as Father Haydn did, who had no preceptor at all, but got him- 
self the Grains ad Pamassum of Fux and some music of the time, 
in especial the Hamburg Bach, and therewith sturdily practised 
his trade. Just between ourselves, the study of harmony makes 
me for to yawn, but with counterpoint I wax quick and lusty, 
cannot concoct enough merry frolics in this enchanted field, with 
joyous passion soyle the never-ending problems and have already 
put together on paper a whole stook of droll studies in canon 
and fugue, even gotten some praise from the Master therefore. 
That is creative work, requiritn phantasy and invention; playing 
dominoes with chords, without a theme is meseemeth neither flesh 
nor fowL Should not one learn all that about suspensions, passing- 
notes, modulation, preparations and resolution, much better in 
praxi from hearing, experiencing, and inventing oneself, then out 
of a boke? But altogether, now, and per aversionem it is foolish- 
ness, this unthinking division of counterpoint and harmony, sith 
they interact so intimately that one cannot teach them sunderlye 
but only in the whole, as music — in so far as it can be taught. 

Wherefore I am industrious, zelo virtutis, yea almost over- 
burdened and overwhelmed with matters, for I go to lectures at 



the academic in hist. phiL by Lautensack and Encyclopedia of the 
philosophical sciences as well as logic from the famous Bermeter. 
Vale. Ja?7t satis est. Herewith I commit you to the Lord, may He 
preserve you and all clear souls. Your most obedient servant, as 
they say m Halle. — I have made you much too curious about the 
jocus and jape, and what is afoot betwixt me and Satan; not much 
to it after all, except that porter led me astray on the evening of 
the first day — a base churl like that, with a strap round his waist, 
a red cap and a brass badge and a rain-cape, same vild lingo as 
everybody else here. Bristly jaw; looked to me like unto our 
Schleppfuss by reason of his little beard, more than slightly, even, 
when I bethink, or is he waxen more like in my recollection? 
Heavier and fatter, that were from the beer. Introduces himself 
to me as a guide and proved it by his brass badge and his two or 
three scrapes of French and English, diabolical pronunciation; 
“peautiful puilding, antiquide extrement inderessant.” 

Item: we struck a bargain, and the churl shewed me every- 
thing, two whole hours, took me everywhere: to the Pauluskirche 
with wondrously chamfered cloisters, the Thomaskirche on ac- 
count of Johann Sebastian, and his grave in St. John’s, where is 
also the Reformation monument, and the new Cloth Hall. Lively 
it was in the streets, for as I said whilere the autumn fair still hap- 
pened to be, and all sorts of banners and hangings advertising furs 
and other wares hung out at windows down the house-fronts, 
there was great bustle and prease in all the narrow streets, particu- 
larly in the heart of the town, nigh the old Town Hall, where 
the chap shewed me the palace, and Auerbach’s inn and the still 
standing tower of the Pleissenburg — where Luther held his dis- 
putacyon with Eck. Great shoving and shouldering in the narrow 
streets behind the Market, very old, with steep gabled roofs; con- 
nected by a criss-crosse labyrinth of covered courts and passages, 
and adjoining warehouses and cellars. All this close packed with 
wares and the hosts of people look at you with outlandish eyen 
and speak in tongues you’ve never heard a syllable of afore. Right 
exciting, and you felt the pulse of the world beating in your 
own body. 

By little and little it gat dark, lights came on, the streets 
emptied, I was aweary and ahungered. I bade my guide draw to 
an ende by shewing me an inn where I could eat. “A good one?” 
he asks, and winks. “A good one,” quoth I, “so it be not too 
dear.” Takes me to a house in a little back lane behind the main 
street— brass railing to the steps up to the door — polished as 
bright as the fellow’s badge, and a lantern over the door, red as 



of the last period and his polyphony; and I find it extraordinarily 
significant that the opponents of the romantic movement, that is 
of an art which progresses from the solely musical into the uni- 
versally intellectual sphere, were the same people who also op- 
posed and deplored Beethoven’s later development. Have you 
ever thought how differently, how much more suffering and sig- 
nificant the individualization of the voice appears in his greatest 
works than in the older music where it is treated with greater 
skill 5 There are judgments which make one laugh by the crass 
truthfulness of them, which are at the same time a judgment on 
the judge. Handel said of Gluck: “My cook understands more 
about counterpoint than he does” — I love this pronouncement of 
a fellow-musician! 

Playing much Chopin, and reading about him. I love the 
angelic in his figure, which reminds me of Shelley: the peculiarly 
and very mysteriously veiled, unapproachable, withdrawing, un- 
adventurous flavour of his being, that not wanting to know, that 
rejection of material experience, the sublime incest of his fantas- 
tically delicate and seductive art. How much speaks for the man 
the deep, intent friendship of Delacroix, who writes to him: 
J’espere vous voir ce soir, mais ce moment est capable de me faire 
devenir fou.” Everything possible for the Wagner of painting! 
But there are quite a few things in Chopin which, not only har- 
monically but also in a general, psychological sense more than an- 
ticipate Wagner, indeed surpass him. Take the C-sharp minor 
Nocturne Op. 27, No. 2, and the duet that begins after the en- 
harmonic change from C-sharp minor to D-flat major. That sur- 
passes in despairing beauty of sound all the Tristan orgies— even 
m the intimate medium of the piano, though not as a grand battle 
of voluptuosity; without the bull-fight character of a theatrical 
mysticism robust in its corruption. Take above all his ironic rela- 
tion to tonality, his teasing way with it, obscuring, ignoring, keep- 
ing it fluctuating, and mocking at accidentals. It goes far, divert- 
ingly and thrillingly far. . . . 

With the exclamation: “Ecce epistolal ” the letter ends. Added 
is: “Goes without saying you destroy this at once.” The signature 
is an initial, that of the family name: the L, not the A. 


The explicit order to destroy this letter I did not obey — and who 
on that ground will condemn a friendship which can claim for 
itself the description “deeply intent” used thelem of Delacroix’s 
friendship for Chopin 5 I did not obey it, in the first instance be- 
cause I felt the need to read again and again a piece of writing at 
first run through so quickly; to study it, not so much read as 
study, stylistically and psychologically. Then, with the passage of 
time, the moment to destroy it had passed too; I learned to re- 
gard it as a document of which the order to destroy was a part, 
so that by its documentary nature it cancelled itself out. 

So much I was certain of from the start: it was not the letter as 
a whole that had given occasion to the direction at the end; but 
only a part of it, the so-called facetie and farce, the experience 
with the fatal porter. But again, that part was die whole letter, on 
account of that part it was written; not for my amusement — 
doubtless the writer had known that the “jape” would have noth- 
ing comic about it for me — but rather to shake off a painful im- 
pression, for which I, the friend of his childhood, was of course 
the only repository. All the rest was only trimmings, wrappings, 
pretext, putting off, and afterwards a covering-up again with talk, 
music-critical apercus, as though nothing had happened. Upon the 
anecdote — to use a very objective word — everything focuses; it 
stands in the background from the beginning on, announces itself 
in the first lines and is postponed. Still untold, it plays into the 
jests about the great city Nineveh and the tolerant sceptical quo- 
tation from the Bible. It copies near being told at the place where 
for the first time there is mention of the porter; then it is dropped 
again. The letter is ostensibly finished before it is told — “Jam satis 
est” — and then, as though it had almost gone out of the writer’s 
head, as though only Schleppfuss’s quoted greeting brought it back, 
it is told “to finish off with,” including the extraordinary reference 
back to his father’s lectures on butterflies. Yet it is not allowed to 
form the end of the letter, rather some remarks about Schumann, 
the romantic movement, Chopin, are appended to it, obviously 



with the intention of detracting from its weight, and so causing 
it to be forgotten — or more correctly, probably, to make it, out 
of pride, look as though that were the idea; for I do not believe 
the intention existed that I, the reader, should overlook the core 
of the letter. 

Very remarkable to me, even on the second reading, was the 
fact that the style, the travesty or personal adaptation of Kumpf’ s 
old-German, prevailed only until the adventure was recounted 
and then was dropped regardless, so that the closing pages are 
entirely uncoloured by it and show a perfectly modern style. Is 
it not as though the archaizing tone had served its purpose as soon 
as the tale of the false guide is on paper 5 As though it is given up 
afterwards, not so much because it is unsuitable for the final ob- 
servations put in to divert the attention, as because from the date 
onwards it was only introduced in order to be able to tell the story 
in it, which by that means gets its proper atmosphere? And what 
atmosphere, then? I will characterize it, however little the desig- 
nation I have in mind will seem applicable to a jest It is the reli- 
gious atmosphere. So much was clear to me: on account of its 
historical affinity with the religious, the language of the Reforma- 
tion — or the flavour of it — had been chosen for a letter which 
was to bring me this story. Without it, how could the word have 
been written down that pressed to be written down: “Pray for 
me'” There could be no better example of the quotation as dis- 
guise, the parody as pretext. And just before it was another, 
which even at the first reading went through and through me, and 
which has just as little to do with humour, bearing as it does an 
undeniably mystical, thus religious stamp: the word “lust-hell.” 

Despite the coolness of the analysis to which I there and then 
subjected Adrian’s letter, few readers will have been deceived 
about the real feelings with which I read and reread it. Anal- 
ysis has necessarily the appearance of coolness, even when prac- 
tised in a state of profound agitation. Agitated I was, I was even 
beside myself. My fury at the obscene prank of that small-beer 
Schleppfuss knew no bounds — yet it was an impersonal fury, no 
evidence at all of prudishness in myself. I was never prudish, and 
if that Leipzig procurer had played his trick on me I should have 
known how to put a good face on it. No, my present feelings had 
entirely to do with Adrian’s nature and being; and for that, in- 
deed, the word "prudish” would be perfectly silly and unsuitable. 
Vulgarity itself might here have been inspired with a sense of the 
need to spare and protect. 

In my feelings the fact played no small part that he should have 



told me the adventure at all, told it weeks after it had happened, 
breaking through a reserve otherwise absolute and always re- 
spected by me. However strange it may seem, considering our 
long intimacy, we had never touched in any personal or intimate 
way on the subject of love, of sex, of the flesh. We had never 
come on it otherwise than through the medium of art and litera- 
ture, with reference to the manifestations of passion in the intel- 
lectual sphere. At such times he spoke in an objectively knowl- 
edgeable way divorced from any personal element. Yet how 
could it have been absent in a being like him? That it was not 
there was evidence enough in his repetition of certain doctrines 
taken over from Kretschmar on the not contemptible role of the 
sensual in art, and not only in art; in some of his comments on 
Wagner, and in such spontaneous utterances as that about the 
nudity of the human voice and the intellectual compensation pro- 
vided for it through highly complicated art-forms in the old vocal 
music. That sort of thing had nothing old-maidish about it; it 
showed a free, unforced contemplation of the world of fleshly 
desire. But again, it was not indicative of my nature but of his 
that every time at such turns in the conversation I felt something 
like a shock, a catch, a slight shrinking within me. It was, to ex- 
press myself strongly, as though one heard an angel holding forth 
on sin. One could expect no flippancy or vulgarity, no banal bad 
jokes. And yet one would feel put off; acknowledging his intel- 
lectual right to speak, one would be tempted to beg: “Hush, my 
friend! Your lips are too pure, too stern for such matters.” 

In fact, Adrian’s distaste for the coarse or lascivious was for- 
bidding and forthright. I knew exactly the wry mouth, the con- 
temptuous expression with which he recoiled when that sort of 
thing was even remotely approached. At Halle, in the Winfried 
circle, he was fairly safe: religious propriety, at least in word, 
spared him attacks upon his fine feeling. Women, wives, “the 
girls,” affairs, were never the subject of conversation among the 
members. I do not know how these young theologians did in fact, 
each for himself, behave, whether or not they preserved them- 
selves in chastity for Christian marriage. As for myself, I will con- 
fess that I had tasted of the apple, and at that time had relations 
for seven or eight months with a girl of the people, a cooper's 
daughter, a connection which was hard enough to keep from 
Adrian — though truly I scarcely believe that he noticed it — and 
which I severed without ill feeling at the end of that time as the 
creature’s lack of education bored me and I had never anything 
to say for myself with her except just the one thing. I had gone 


1 47 

into it not so much out of hot blood as impelled by curiosity, 
vanity, and the desire to translate into practice that frankness of 
the ancients about sexual matters which was part of my theoretic 

But precisely this element of intellectual complacence to which 
I, it may be a little pedantically, pretended, was entirely lacking 
in Adrian’s attitude. I will not speak of Christian inhibitions nor 
yet apply the shibboleth “Kaisersaschern,” with its various im- 
plications, partly middle-class and conventional, yet coloured as 
well with a medievally lively horror of sin. That would do the 
truth scant justice and not suffice either to call out the loving con- 
sideration with which his attitude inspired me, the anger I felt at 
any injury he might receive. One simply could not and would not 
picture Adrian in any situation of gallantly; that was due to the 
armour of purity, chastity, intellectual pride, cool irony, which 
he wore; it was sacred to me, sacred in a certain painful and se- 
cretly mortifying way. For painful and mortifying — except per- 
haps to the malicious soul — is the thought that purity is not given 
to this life in the flesh; that instinct does not spare the loftiest 
intellectual pride, nor can arrogance itself refuse its toll to nature. 
One may only hope that this derogation into the human, and 
thereby also into the beast, may by God’s will fulfill itself in some 
form of beauty, forbearance, and spiritual elevation, in feelings 
veiled and purified by devotion. 

Must I add that precisely in cases like my friend’s there is the 
least hope of this? The beautifying, veiling, ennobling, I mean, is 
a work of the soul, in a court of appeal interceding, mediating, 
itself instinct with poetry; where spirit and desire interpenetrate 
and appease each other in a way not quite free from illusion; it is 
a stratum of life peculiarly informed with sentiment, in which, I 
confess, my own humanity feels at ease, but which is not for 
stronger tastes. Natures like Adrian’s have not much “soul.” It is 
a fact, in which a profoundly observant friendship has instructed 
me, that the proudest intellectuality stands in the most immediate 
relation of au to the animal, to naked instinct, is given over most 
shamelessly to it; hence the anxiety that a person like me must 
suffer through a nature like Adrian’s — hence too my conviction 
that the accursed adventure of which he had written was in its 
essence frightfully symbolic. 

I saw him standing at the door of that room in the house of 
joy; slowly comprehending, eyeing the waiting daughters of the 
wilderness. Once — I had the picture clearly before me — I had 
seen him pass through the alien atmosphere of Miitze’s tavern in 



Halle. So now I saw him move blindly to the piano and strike 
chords — what chords he only afterwards knew himself. I saw the 
snub-nosed girl beside him, Hetaera esmeralda: her powdered 
bosoms in Spanish bodice — saw- her brush his cheek with her arm. 
Violently, across space and back m time, I yearned thither. I felt 
the impulse to push the witch away from him with my knee as 
he had pushed the music-stool aside to gain his freedom. For days 
I felt the touch of her flesh on my own cheek and knew with 
abhorrence and sheer terror that it had burned upon his ever 
since. Again I beg that it be considered indicative not of me but 
of him that I was quite unable to take the event on its lighter side. 
There was no light side there. If I have even remotely succeeded 
in giving the reader a picture of my friend’s character, he must 
feel with me the indescribably profaning, the mockingly debasing 
and dangerous nature of this contact. 

That up to then he had “touched ” no woman was and is to 
me an unassailable fact. Now the woman had touched him — and 
he had fled. Nor is there in this flight any trace of the comic, let 
me assure the reader, in case he incline to seek such in it. Comic, 
at most, this avoidance was, in the bitter-tragic sense of futility. 
In my eyes Adrian had not escaped, and only very briefly, cer- 
tainly, did he feel that he had. His intellectual pnde had suffered 
the trauma of contact with soulless instinct. Adrian was to return 
to the place whither the betrayer had led him. 


May not my readers ask whence comes the detail in my narrative, 
so precisely known to me, even though I could not have been al- 
ways present, not always at the side of the departed hero of this 
biography? It is true that repeatedly, for extended periods, I lived 
apart from Adrian: during my year of military service, at the 
end of which I resumed my studies at the University of Leipzig 
and became familiar with his life and circle there. So also for the 
duration of my educational travels to the classic lands in the years 
1908 and 1909. Our reunion on my return was brief, as he already 
cherished the purpose of leaving Leipzig and going to southern 
Germany. The longest period or separation followed thereupon: 
the years when after a short stay in Munich he was in Italy with 
his friend the Silesian Schildknapp. Meanwhile I first spent my 
probation time at the Boniface gymnasium in Kaisersaschern and 
then entered upon my teaching office there. Only in 1913, w’hen 
Adrian had settled in Pfeiffering in Upper Bavaria and I had 
transferred to Freising, were we near each other; but then it was 
to have before my eyes, for seventeen years, with no — or as good 
as no — interruption, that life already long since marked by fate, 
that increasingly vehement activity, until the catastrophe of 1930. 

He had long ceased to be a beginner in music, that curiously 
cabbalistic craft, at once playful and profound, artful and austere, 
when he placed himself again under the guidance, direction, su- 
pervision of Wendell Kretschmar in Leipzig. His rapid progress 
was winged by an intelligence grasping everything as it new and 
distracted at most by anticipatory impatience in the field of what 
could be taught, in the technique of composition, form, and or- 
chestration. It seemed that the two-year theological episode in 
Halle had not weakened his bond with music or been any actual 
interruption to his preoccupation with it. His letter had told me 
something about his eager and accumulating exercises in counter- 
point. Kretschmar laid even greater stress on the technique of or- 
chestration; even in Kaisersaschern he had made him orchestrate 
much piano music, movements from sonatas, string quartets; 



which then, in long conversations, would be discussed, criticized, 
and corrected. He went so far as to ask him to orchestrate the 
piano reductions of single acts from operas unknown to Adrian, 
and the comparison of that which the pupil tried, who had heard 
and read Berlioz, Debussy, and the German and Austrian late ro- 
mantics, with that which Gretry or Cherubini had actually done 
made master and pupil laugh. Kretschmar was at that time at 
work on his own composition, The Statue, and gave his pupil one 
or the other scene in particell for instrumentation and then 
showed him what he himself had done or intended. Here was oc- 
casion for abundant debates, in which of course the superior ex- 
perience of the master held the field, but once at least, neverthe- 
less, the intuition of the apprentice won a victory. For a chord 
combination that Kretschmar rejected at first sight as being doubt- 
ful and awkward finally seemed to him more characteristic than 
what he himself had in mind, and at the next meeting he declared 
that he would like to take over Adrian’s idea. 

The latter felt less proud than one would expect. Teacher and 
pupil were in their musical instincts and intuitions at bottom very 
far apart, since in art almost of necessity the aspiring student 
finds himself addressed to the technical guidance of a craftsman- 
ship already become somewhat remote, owing to the difference of 
a generation. Then it is well at least if the master guesses and un- 
derstands the hidden leanings of the youth; he may even be ironic 
on the score of them if he takes care not to stand in the way of 
their development. Thus Kretschmar lived in the natural, taken- 
for-granted conviction that music had found its definitely high- 
est manifestation and effect in orchestral composition; and this 
Adrian no longer believed. To the boy of twenty, more than to 
his elders, the close link of the most highly developed instrumen- 
tal technique with a harmonic conception was more than a his- 
torical view. With him it had grown to be something like a state 
of mind, in which past and future merged together; the cool gaze 
he directed upon the hypertrophy of the post-romantic monster 
orchestra, the need he felt for its reduction and return to the an- 
cillary role that it had played at the time of the preharmonic, the 
polyphonic vocal music; his tendency in this direction and thus to 
oratorio, a species in which the creator of The Revelation of St. 
John and the Lamentation of Dr. Faustus would later achieve his 
highest and boldest flights — all this came out very early in word 
and deed. 

His studies in orchestration under Kretschmar’s guidance were 
not the less zealous on that account. For he agreed with his 



teacher that one must have command over what has been achieved 
even though one no longer finds it essential. He once said to me 
that a composer who is sick of orchestral impressionism and there- 
fore no longer learns instrumentation seemed to him like a dentist 
who no longer learns how to treat the roots of teeth and goes 
back to the barber technique because it has lately been discovered 
that dead teeth give people rheumatism of the joints. This com- 
parison, extraordinarily far-fetched yet so characteristic of the 
intellectual atmosphere of the time, continued to be an oft-quoted 
allusion between us, and the “dead tooth” preserved by skilful 
embalming of the root became a symbol for certain very mod- 
ern refinements of the orchestral palette, including his own sym- 
phonic fantasy Ocean Lights . This piece he wrote m Leipzig, still 
under Kretschmar’s eye, after a holiday trip to the North Sea 
with Rudiger Schildknapp. Kretschmar later arranged a semi- 
public performance of it. It is a piece of exquisite tone-painting, 
which gives evidence of an astonishing feeling for entrancing 
combinations of sound, at first hearing almost impossible for the 
ear to unravel. The cultured public saw in the young composer 
a highly gifted successor to the Debussy-Ravel lme. That he was 
not, and he scarcely included this demonstration of colouristic 
and orchestral ability in the list of his actual productions; almost 
as little, indeed, as the wrist-loosening and calligraphic practice 
with which he had once occupied himself under Kretschmar’s 
direction: the six- to eight-part choruses, the fugue with the three 
themes for string quintet with piano accompaniment, the sym- 
phony, whose particell he brought him by bits and whose instru- 
mentation he discussed with him; the Cello Sonata in A minor 
with the very lovely slow movement, whose theme he would 
later use in one of his Brentano songs. That sound-sparkling 
Ocean Lights was in my eyes a very remarkable instance of how 
an artist can give his best to a thing in which he privately no 
longer believes, insisting on excelling in artistic devices which for 
his consciousness are already at the point of being worn out “It 
is acquired root-treatment,” he said to me. “I don’t rise to strepto- 
coccus disinfection.” Every one of his remarks showed that he 
considered the genre of “tone-painting,” of “nature moods,” to be 
fundamentally out of date. 

But to be frank, this disillusioned masterpiece of orchestral bril- 
liance already bore within itself the traits of parody and intel- 
lectual mockery of art, which in Leverkuhn’s later work so often 
emerged in a creative and uncanny way. Many found it chilling, 
even repellent and revolting, and these were the better, if not the 



best sort, who thus judged. All the superficial lot simply called it 
witty and amusing. In truth parody was here the proud expedient 
of a great gift threatened with sterility by a combination of scep- 
ticism, intellectual reserve, and a sense of the deadly extension of 
the kingdom of the banal. I trust I have put that aright. My un- 
certainty and my feeling of responsibility are alike great, when 
I seek to clothe in words thoughts that are not primarily my own, 
but have come to me only through my friendship with Adrian. 
Of a lack of naivete I would not speak, for in the end naivete lies 
at the bottom of being, all being, even the most conscious and 
complicated. The conflict — almost impossible to simplify— be- 
tween the inhibitions and the productive urge of inborn genius, 
between chastity and passion, just that is the naivete out of which 
such an artist nature lives, the soil for the difficult, characteristic 
growth of his work; and the unconscious effort to get for the 
“gift” the productive impulse, the necessary little ascendancy 
over the impediments of unbelief, arrogance, intellectual self- 
consciousness: this instinctive effort stirs and becomes decisive at 
the moment when the mechanical studies preliminary to the prac- 
tice of an art begin to be combined with the first personal, while 
as yet entirely ephemeral and preparatory plastic efforts. 


I speak of this because, not without tremors, not without a con- 
traction of my heart, I have now come to the fateful event which 
happened about a year after I received in Naumburg the letter I 
quoted from Adrian, somewhat more than a year, that is, after 
his arrival m Leipzig and that first sight of the city of which the 
letter tells. In other words, it was not long before — being re- 
leased from the service— *1 went to him again and found him, 
while outwardly unchanged, yet in fact a marked man, pierced 
by the arrow of fate. In narrating this episode, I feel I should call 
Apollo and the Muses to my aid, to inspire me with the purest, 
most indulgent words: indulgent to the sensitive reader, indulgent 
to the memory of my departed friend, indulgent lastly to myself, 
to whom the telling is like a serious personal confession. But such 
an invocation betrays to me at once the contradiction between 
my own intellectual conditioning and the colouration of the story 
I have to tell, a colouration that comes from quite other strata of 
tradition, altogether foreign to the blitheness of classical culture. 
I began this record by expressing doubt whether I was the right 
man for the task. The arguments I had to adduce against such 
doubts I will not repeat. It must suffice that, supported on them, 
strengthened by them, I propose to remain true to my under- 

I said that Adrian returned to the place whither the impudent 
messenger had brought him. One sees now that it did not happen 
so soon. A whole year long the pride of the spirit asserted itself 
against the injury it had received, and it was always a sort of con- 
solation to me to feel that his surrender to the naked instinct that 
had laid its spiteful finger on him had not lacked all and every 
human nobility or psychological veiling. For as such I regard 
every fixation of desire, however crude, on a definite and indi- 
vidual goal, I see it in the moment of choice, even though the 
will thereto be not “free” but impudently provoked by its object. 
A trace of purifying love can be attested so soon as “the instinct 
wears the face of a human being, be it the most anonymous, the 


most contemptible. And there is this to say, that Adrian went 
back to that place on account of one particular person, of her 
whose touch burned on his cheek, the “brown wench” with the 
big mouth, in the little jacket, w ho had come up to him at the 
piano and whom he called Esmeralda. It \\ as she whom he sought 
there — and did not find her. 

The fixation, calamitous as it was, resulted in his leaving the 
brothel after his second and voluntary visit the same man as after 
the first, involuntary one, not, however, without having assured 
himself of the place where she was now. It had the further result 
that under a musical pretext he made rather a long journey to 
reach her whom he desired. It happened that the first Austrian 
performance of Salome, conducted by the composer himself, was 
to take place in Graz, the capital of Styria, in May 1906. Some 
months earlier Adrian and Kretschmar had gone to Dresden to 
see its actual premiere; and he had told his teacher and the friends 
whom he had meantime made in Leipzig that he wanted to be 
present at this gala performance and hear again that successful 
revolutionary work, whose Esthetic sphere did not at all attract 
him, but which of course interested him in a musical and techni- 
cal sense, particularly as the setting to music of a prose dialogue. 
He travelled alone, and one cannot be sure whether he carried 
out his ostensible purpose and went from Graz to Pressburg, pos- 
sibly from Pressburg to Graz; or whether he simply pretended 
the stay in Graz and confined himself to the visit to Pressburg (in 
Hungarian, Pozsony ). She whose mark he bore had been hidden 
in a house there, having had to leave her former place for hospital 
treatment. The hunted hunter found her out. 

My hand trembles as I write; but in quiet, collected words I 
will say what I know, always consoled to a certain extent by the 
thought to which I gave utterance above, the idea of choice, the 
thought that something obtained here like a bond of love, which 
lent to the coming together of the precious youth and that un- 
happy creature a gleam of soul. Though of course this consola- 
tion is inseparable from the other thought, so much more dread- 
ful, that love and poison here once and for ever became a frightful 
unity of experience; the mythological unity embodied m the 

It does look as though in the poor thing’s mind something an- 
swered the feeling which the youth brought to her. No doubt she 
remembered that fleeting visit. Her approach, that caressing of 
his cheek with her bare arm, might have been the humble and 
tender expression of her receptivity for all that distinguished him 



from the usual clientele. And she learned from his own lips that 
he had made the journey thither on her account. She thanked 
him, even while she warned him against her body. I know it from 
Adrian* she warned him — is not this something like a beneficent 
distinction between the higher humanity of the creature and her 
physical part, fallen to the gutter, sunk to a wretched object of 
use! 1 The unhappy one warned him who asked of her, warned 
him away from “herself’, that meant an act of free elevation of 
soul above her pitiable physical existence, an act of human dis- 
association from it, an act of sympathy, an act— if the word be 
permitted me — of love. And, gracious heaven, was it not also 
love, or what was it, what madness, what deliberate, reckless 
tempting of God, what compulsion to comprise the punishment 
in the sin, finally what deep, deeply mysterious longing for dae- 
monic conception, for a deathly unchaining of chemical change 
in his nature was at work, that having been warned he despised 
the warning and insisted upon possession of this flesh? 

Never without a religious shudder have I been able to think of 
this embrace, in which the one staked his salvation, the other 
found it. Purifying, justifying, sublimating, it must have blessed 
the wretched one, that the other travelled from afar and refused 
whatever the risk to give her up. It seems that she gave him all 
the sweetness of her womanhood, to repay him for what he 
risked. She might thus know that he never forgot her; but it is 
no less true that it was for her own sake he, who never saw her 
again, remembered; and her name — that which he gave her from 
the beginning — whispers magically, unheard by anyone but me, 
throughout his work. I may be taxed with vanity, but I cannot 
refrain from speaking here of the discovery which he one day 
silently confirmed. Leverkiihn was not the first composer, and he 
will not have been the last, who loved to put mysteries, magic for- 
mulas, and charms into his works. The fact displays the inborn 
tendency of music to superstitious rites and observances, the sym- 
bolism of numbers and letters. Thus in my friend’s musical fabric 
a five- to six-note series, beginning with B and ending on E flat, 
with a shifting E and A between, is found strikingly often, a 
basic figure of peculiarly nostalgic character, which in differing 
harmonic and rhythmic garb, is given now to this part now to that, 
often in its inversion, as it were turned on its axis, so that while 
the intervals remain the same, the sequence of the notes is altered. 
It occurs at first in the probably most beautiful of the thirteen 
Brentano songs composed in Leipzig, the heart-piercing lied: “O 
lieb Model , tote schlecht bist du »” which is permeated with it; but 



most particularly in the late work, where audacity and despair 
ming le in so unique a way, the W eheklag of Dr. Faustus, written 
in Pfeiffering, where the inclination shows even more strongly to 
use those intervals also in a simultaneous-harmonic combination. 

The letters composing this note-cipher are: h, e, a, e, e-flat: 
hettera esmeralda.* 


* * 

Adrian returned to Leipzig and expressed himself as entertained 
and full of admiration for the powerful and striking opera he was 
supposed to have heard a second time and possibly really had. I 
can still hear him say about the author of it: “What a gifted good 
fellow! The revolutionary as a Sabbath-day child, pert and con- 
cilium. How after great expense of affronts and dissonances every- 
thing turns into good nature, beer good nature, gets all buttered 
up, so to speak, appeasing the philistine and telling him no harm 
was meant. . . . But a hit, a palpable hit!” Five weeks after he 
had resumed his musical and philosophical studies a local affection 
decided him to consult a physician. The specialist, by name Dr. 
Erasmi — Adrian had chosen him from the street directory — was 
a powerful man, with a red face and a pointed black beard. It ob- 
viously made him puff to stoop and even in an upright posture he 
breathed in pants with his lips open. The habit indicated oppres- 
sion, but it also looked like contemptuous indifference, as though 
the man would dismiss or intended to dismiss something by saying 
“Pooh, pooh!” He puffed like that during the whole examination, 
and then, in contradiction to his pooh-poohing, declared the ne- 
cessity for a thorough and rather lengthy treatment, on which he 
at once embarked. On three successive days Adrian went to him. 
Then Erasmi arranged a break of three days. Adrian was to come 
back on the fourth. When the patient — who was not ailing, his 
general state of health being entirely unaffected — returned at 
four o’clock on the appointed day, something utterly unexpected 
and startling confronted him. 

He had always had to ring at the door of the apartment, which 
was up three steep flights of stairs in a gloomy building in the 
old city, and wait for a maid to open. But this time he found both 
outer and inner doors open, that to the waiting-room, the con- 
sulting-room, and facing him a door into the living-room, the so- 
called “best room” with two windows. Yes, there the windows 
were wide open.too, and all four curtains blew in and out in the 
* The English B is represented m German, by H. 



draught. In the middle of the room lay Dr. Erasmi, with his beard 
sticking up, his eyes fast shut, in a white shirt with cuffs, ly ing 
on a tufted cushion in an open coffin on two trestles. 

What was going on, why the dead man lay there so alone and 
open to the wind, where the maid and Frau Dr. Erasmi were, 
whether perhaps the people from the undertaking establishment 
were waiting to screw on the lid, or were coming back at once — 
at what singular moment the visitor had been brought to the spot, 
was never made clear. When I came to Leipzig, Adrian could only 
describe to me the bewilderment in which he, after staring for a 
moment, had gone down the stairs again. He seems not to have 
inquired further into the doctor’s sudden death, seems not to have 
been interested. He merely thought that the man’s constant puffing 
and blowing had always been a bad sign. 

With secret repugnance, struggling against unreasoning horror, 
I must now relate that Adrian’s second choice also stood under 
an unlucky star. He took two days to recover from the shock. 
Then he again had recourse to the Leipzig directory, chose an- 
other name, and put himself in the care of a certain Dr. Zimbalist, 
in one of the business streets off the Marktplatz. On the ground 
floor was a restaurant, then a piano warehouse; the doctor’s house 
occupied part of the upper storey, a porcelain shield with his 
name on it being downstairs in the lobby. The dermatologist’s 
two waiting-rooms, one reserved for female patients, were adorned 
with growing plants, palms and house trees in pots. Medical books 
and magazines lay about, for instance an illustrated history of 
morals, in the room where Adrian for the first and the second 
time awaited his treatment. 

Dr. Zimbalist was a small man with hom spectacles, an oval 
bald spot running from the brow to the back of the head between 
two growths of reddish hair, and a moustache left growing only 
immediately under the nostrils, as was then the fashion in the 
upper classes and would later become the attribute of a world- 
famous face. His speech was slovenly and he inclined to bad mas- 
culine jokes. But one had not the impression that he felt very 
jolly. One side of his cheek was drawn up in a sort of tic, the 
comer of the mouth as well, and the eye winked in sympathy; 
the whole expression was crabbed and craven to a degree; he 
looked no-good, he looked odious. Thus Adrian described him to 
me and thus I see him. , 

Now this is what happened: Adrian had gone twice for treat- 
ment; he went a third time. As he mounted the stairs he met, be- 
tween the first and second storeys, the physician coming down 



between two sturdy men wearing stiff hats on the backs of their 
heads. Dr. Zimbalist’s eyes were cast down like those of a man 
taking- heed to his steps on the stairs. One of his wrists was linked 
with the wrist of one of his companions by a bracelet and little 
chain. Looking up and recognizing his patient, he twitched his 
cheek sourly, nodded at him, and said: “Another time!” Adrian, 
his back to the wall, disconcerted, faced the three and let them 
pass; looked after them awhile as they descended and then fol- 
lowed them down. He saw them mount a waiting car and drive 
off at a fast pace. Thus ended the continuation of Adrian’s cure 
by Dr. Zimbalist, after its earlier interruption. I must add that he 
troubled himself as little about the circumstances of his second 
bad shot as about the extraordinary atmosphere of his first one. 
Why Zimbalist had been taken away, and at the very hour for 
which an appointment had been made — he let that rest. But as 
though frightened off, he never took up the cure again after that 
and went to no other doctor. He did so the less in that the local 
affection healed itself without further treatment and disappeared, 
and as I can confirm and would sustain against any professional 
doubts, there were no manifest secondary symptoms. Adrian suf- 
fered once, in Wendell Kretschmar’s lodgings, where he had just 
presented some studies in composition, a violent attack of giddi- 
ness, which made him stagger and forced him to lie down. It 
passed into a two days’ migraine, which except for its severity 
was not different from other earlier attacks of the same kind. 
When I came back to Leipzig, once more a civilian, I found my 
friend unchanged in his walks and ways. 


Or was he? If during our year of separation he had not become a 
different person, at least he was now more definitely that which 
he was, and this was enough to impress me, especially since I had 
probably a little forgotten what he had been. I have described the 
coolness of our parting in Halle. Our reunion, at the thought of 
which I had so rejoiced, was not lacking in the same quality, so 
that I, put off, both amused and dismayed, had to swallow my 
feelings and suppress whatever surged upwards into my conscious- 
ness. That he would fetch me from the station I had not expected. 
I had even not let him know the hour. I simply sought him out in 
his lodgings, before I had looked out any for myself. His land- 
lady announced me, and I entered the room, calling him in a loud 
and joyful shout. 

He sat at his desk, an old-fashioned one with a roll top and 
cabinet, writing down notes. “Hallo!” said he, not looking up. 
“Just a minute, we can talk.” And went on for some minutes with 
his work, leaving it to me to remain standing or to make myself 
comfortable. The reader must not misinterpret this, any more 
than I did. It was evidence of old-established intimacy, a life in 
common which could not be in the least affected by a year’s sep- 
aration. It was simply as though we had parted the day before. 
Even so I was a little dashed, if at the same time amused, as the 
characteristic does amuse us. I had long since let myself down in 
one of the armless upholstered chairs flanking the book-table, 
when he screwed the top on his fountain-pen and approached me, 
without particularly looking me in the face. 

“You’ve come just at the right time,” he said, and sat down on 
the other side of the table. “The Schaff-Gosch quartet is playing 
Op. 132 tonight. You’ll come along 5 ” 

I understood that he meant Beethoven’s late work, the A-minor 
String Quartet. 

“Since I’m here,” I replied, “I’ll come with you. It will be good 
to hear the Lydian movement, the ‘Thanksgiving for Recovery’ ; 
I’ve not heard it for a long time.” 



“That beaker,” he said, “I drain at every feast. My eyes run 
over.” And he began to talk about the Church modes and the 
Ptolemaic or “natural” system, whose six different modes were re- 
duced by the tempered, i.e. the false system to two, major and 
minor; and about superiority in modulation of the “pure” scale 
over the tempered one. This he called a compromise for home use, 
as also the tempered piano was a thing precisely tor domestic con- 
sumption, a transient peace-pact, not a hundred and fifty years 
old, which had brought to pass all sorts of considerable thmgs, 
oh, very considerable, but about which we should not imagine 
that everything was settled for eternity. He expressed great pleas- 
ure over the fact that it was an astronomer and mathematician 
named Ptolemy, a man from Upper Egypt, living in Alexandria, 
who had established the best of all known scales, the natural or 
right one. That proved again, he said, the relation between music 
and astronomy, as it had been shown already by Pythagoras’ cos- 
mic theory of harmony. Now and then he came back to the quar- 
tet and its third movement, referring to its strange character, its 
suggestion of a moon-landscape, and the enormous difficulty of 
performing it. 

“At bottom,” said he, “every one of the four players has to be 
a Paganini and would have to know not only his own part but the 
three others’ as well, else it’s no use. Thank God, one can depend 
on the Schaff-Gosch. Today it can be done, but it is only just 
playable, and in his time it was simply not. The ruthless indiffer- 
ence of one who has risen above it towards the sheer earthly diffi- 
culties of technique is to me the most colossally entertaining thing 
in life. ‘What do I care about your damned fiddle?’ he said to 
somebody who complained.” 

We laughed — and the odd thing was, simply that we had never 
even said how do you do. 

“Besides,” he said, “there is the fourth movement, the incom- 
parable finale, with the short, marchlike introduction and that 
noble recitative of the first violin, with which as suitably as pos- 
sible the theme is prepared. Only it is vexatious, if you don’t want 
to call it gratifying, that in music, at least m this music, there are 
things for which one cannot scare up, out of the whole rich realm 
of language, do what you like, any properly characterizing epithet 
or combination of epithets. I have been tormenting myself over 
that these days: you cannot find any adequate term for the spirit, 
the attitude, the behaviour of this theme. For there is a lot of be- 
haviour there. Tragic? Bold? Defiant, emphatic, full of elan, the 
height of nobility? None of them good. And ‘glorious’ is of course 



only throwing in your hand. You finally land at the objective di- 
rection, the name: Allegro appassionato . That is the best after all.” 

I agreed. “Perhaps,” I thought, “this evening we might think of 
something else.” 

“You must see Kretschmar soon,” it occurred to him to say. 
“Where do you live?” 

I told him I would go to a hotel for the night and look out 
something suitable in the morning. 

“I understand,” he said, “your not asking me to find something. 
One cannot leave it to anyone else. I have,” he added, “told the 
people in Cafe Central about you and your arrival. I must take 
you there soon.” 

By the people he meant the group of young intellectuals whose 
acquaintance he had made through Kretschmar. I was convinced 
that his attitude towards them was very like what it had been to- 
wards the Wmfried brethren in Halle, and when I said it was good 
to hear that he had quickly found suitable contacts in Leipzig he 

“Well, contacts. . . 

Schildknapp, the poet and translator, he added, was the most 
satisfactory. But even he had a way, out of a sort of not precisely 
superior self-confidence, of always refusing, as soon as he saw 
anyone wanted anything of him or needed or tried to claim him. 
A man with a very strong — or perhaps on the other hand not so 
strong — feeling of independence, he said. But sympathetic, en- 
tertaining, and besides so short of money that he himself had to 
help out. 

What he had wanted of Schildknapp, who as a translator lived 
intimately with the English language and was altogether a warm 
admirer of everything English, emerged as we continued to talk. 
I learned that Adrian was looking for a theme for an opera and, 
years before he seriously approached the task, had had Love’s 
Labour’s Lost in mind. What he wanted of Schildknapp, who was 
musically equipped as well, was the preparation of the libretto. 
But the other, partly on account of his own work, and partly, I 
surmise, because Adrian would hardly have been able to pay him 
in advance, would not hear to it. Well, later I myself did my 
friend this service. I like to think back to our first groping talk 
about it, on this very evening. And I found my idea confirmed: 
the tendency to marriage with the word, to vocal articulation, 
more and more possessed him. He was practising almost exclu- 
sively the composition of lieder, short and long songs, even epic 
fragments, taking his material from a Mediterranean anthology, 




which in a fairly happy German version included Provengal and 
Catalan lyrics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Italian po- 
etry, the loftiest visions of the Divma Commedia, and some Span- 
ish and Portuguese things. It was, at that musical time of day and 
at the young adept’s age, almost inevitable that here and there the 
influence of Gustav Mahler should be perceptible. But then would 
come a tone, a mood, a glimpse, a something lone-wandering and 
unique: it stood strange and firm on its own feet; and in such 
things we recognize today the master of the grotesque Vision of 
the Apocalypse. 

This was clearest in the songs of the series taken from the Purga- 
tono and the Paradiso, chosen with a shrewd sense of their affinity 
with music. Thus in the piece which especially took me, and 
Kretschmar too had called very good, where the poet in the light 
of the planet Venus sees the smaller lights — they are the spirits 
of the blessed — some more quickly, the others more slowly, “ac- 
cording to the kind of their regard of God” drawing their circles, 
and compares this to the sparks that one distinguishes in the 
flame, the voices that one distinguishes in the song “when the one 
twines round the other.” I was surprised and enchanted at the re- 
production of the sparks in the fire, of the entwining voices. And 
still I did not know whether I should give the preference to these 
fantasies on the light in light or to the introspective, more- 
thought-than-seen pieces — those where all is rejected questioning, 
wrestling with the unfathomable, where “doubt springs at the 
foot of truth” and even the cherub who looks into God’s depths 
measures not the gulf of the everlasting resolve. Adrian had here 
chosen the frightfully stem sequence of verses which speak of 
the condemnation of innocence and ignorance, and incompre- 
hensible justice is questioned which delivers over to hell the 
good and pure but not baptized, not reached by faith. He had per- 
suaded himself to put the thundering response in tones which an- 
nounce the powerlessness of the creaturely good before Good 
in itself: the latter, being itself the source of justice, cannot give 
way before anything that our human understanding is tempted 
to call unjust. This rejection of the human in favour of an unat- 
tainable absolute foreordination angered me. And altogether, 
though I acknowledge Dante’s greatness as a poet, I always feel 
put off by his tendency to cruelty and scenes of martyrdom. I 
recall that I scolded Adrian for choosing this almost intolerable 
passage as his theme. It was then that I met a look from his eye 
which I had not seen before; it had made me question whether I 
was quite right in asserting that I found him unchanged after our 



year’s separation. This look was something new, and it remained 
peculiar to him, even though one encountered it only from time 
to time and indeed without especial occasion. Mute, veiled, mus- 
ing, aloof to the point of offensiveness, full of a chilling melan- 
choly, it ended in a smile with closed lips, not unfriendly, yet 
mocking, and with that gesture of turning away, so habitual, so 
long familiar to me. 

The impression was painful and, intentional or not, it wounded. 
But I quickly forgave him as we went on, and I heard the moving 
musical diction given to the parable in the Purgatorio of the man 
who carries a light on his back at night, which does not light him 
but lights up the path of those coming after. The tears came in my 
eyes. I was still happier over the altogether successful shaping of 
the address, only nine lines long, of the poet to his allegorical song, 
which speaks so darkly and difficultly, with no prospect of its 
hidden sense being understanded of the world. Thus, its creator 
lays upon it, may it implore perception if not of its depth at least 
of its beauty. “So look at least, how beautiful I am!” The way the 
music strives upward out of the difficulties, the artful confusion, 
the mingled distresses of its first part to the tender light of the 
final cry and there is touchingly resolved — all that I straightway 
found admirable and did not hide my delighted approbation. 

“So much the better if it is good for something already,” said 
he. In later talks it became clear what he meant by “already.” The 
word had not to do with his youth; he meant that he regarded 
the composition of the songs, however much devotion he gave to 
the single task, on the whole only as practice for a complete work 
in words and music which hovered before his mind’s eye, the 
text of which was to be the Shakespeare comedy. He went about 
theoretically to glorify this bond with the word, which he would 
put in practice. Music and speech, he insisted, belonged together, 
they were at bottom one, language was music, music a language; 
separate, one always appealed to the other, imitated the other, used 
the other’s tools, always the one gave itself to be understood as 
substitute of the other. How music could be first of all word, be 
thought and planned as word, he would demonstrate to me by the 
fact that Beethoven had been seen composing in words. “What is 
he writing there in his notebook?” it had been asked. “He is com- 
posing.” “But he is writing words, not notes.” Yes, that was a way 
he had. He usually sketched in words the course of ideas in a com- 
position, at most putting in a few notes here and there. — Adrian 
dwelt upon this, it visibly charmed him. The creative thought, he 
said, probably formed its own and unique intellectual category, 



but the first draft hardly ever amounted to a picture, a statue in 
words — which spoke for the fact that music and speech belonged 
together. It was very natural that music should take fire at the 
word, that the word should burst forth out of music, as it did to- 
wards the end of the Ninth Symphony. Finally it was a fact that 
the whole development of music in Germany strove towards the 
word-tone drama of Wagner and therein found its goal. 

“One goal,” said I, referring to Brahms and to the absolute 
music in the “light on his back.” He agreed to the qualification, 
the more easily because what he had vaguely in mind was as un- 
Wagnerian as possible, and most remote from nature-daemony and 
the theatrical quality of the myth: a revival of op6ra bouffe in a 
spirit of the most artificial mockery and parody of the artificial: 
something highly playful and highly precious; its aim the ridicule 
of affected asceticism and that euphuism which was the social 
fruit of classical studies. He spoke with enthusiasm of the theme, 
which gave opportunity to set the lout and “natural” alongside 
the comic sublime and make both ridiculous in each other. Archaic 
heroics, rodomontade, bombastic etiquette tower out of forgotten 
epochs in the person of Don Armado, whom Adrian rightly pro- 
nounced a consummate figure of opera. And he quoted verses to 
me in English, which obviously he had taken to his heart: the de- 
spair of the witty Biron at his perjured love of her who had two 
pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes; his having to sigh and watch 
for “by heaven one that will do the deed, though Argus were her 
eunuch and her guard.” Then the judgment upon this very Biron: 
“You shall this twelvemonth term from day to day Visit the 
speechless sick, and still converse With groaning wretches”; and 
has cty: “It cannot be: mirth cannot move a soul in agony!” He 
repeated the passage and declared that some day he would cer- 
tainly compose it, also the incomparable talk in the fifth act about 
the folly of the wise, the helpless, blinded, humiliating misuse of 
wit to adorn the fool’s cap of passion. Such utterance, he said, as 
that of the two lines: 

The blood of youth bums not with such excess 

As gravity’s revolt to wantonness 

flourishes only on the heights of poetic genius. 

I rejoiced at this admiration, this love, even though the choice 
of matter was not quite to my taste. I have always been rather 
unhappy at any mockery of humanistic extravagances; it ends by 
making humanism itself a subject for mirth. Which did not pre- 
vent me from preparing the libretto for him when he was ready. 



What I at once tried my best to dissuade him from was his 
strange and utterly impractical idea of composing the comedy m 
English, because he found that the only right, dignified, authentic 
thing; also because it seemed indicated, on account of the plays on 
words and the old English verse with doggerel rhyme. The very 
important objection, that a text in a foreign language would de- 
stroy every prospect of its appearance on a German stage, he did 
not consider, because he altogether declined to imagine a con- 
temporary public for his exclusive, eccentric, fantastic dreams. It 
was a baroque idea, but rooted deep in his nature, combined as 
that was of haughty shyness, the old-German provincialism of 
Kaisersaschem, and an out-and-out cosmopolitanism. Not for noth- 
ing was he a son of the town where Otto III lay buried. His dis- 
like of his own very Germanness (it was that, indeed, which drew 
him to the Anglicist and Anglomaniac Schildknapp) took the two 
disparate forms of a cocoonlike withdrawal from the world and an 
inward need of world-wideness. These it was made him insist on 
expecting a German concert audience to listen to songs in a for- 
eign language — or, more realistically put, on preventing their 
hearing them. In fact, he produced during my Leipzig year com- 
positions on poems by Verlaine and the beloved William Blake, 
which were not sung for decades. The Verlaine ones I heard later 
in Switzerland. One of them is the wonderful poem with the clos- 
ing line: “C’est rheure exqvise another the equally enchanting 
“ Chanson d’Automne”; a third the fantastically melancholy, pre- 
posterously melodious three-stanza poem that begins with the 
lines: “Un grand sommeil noir Tombe sur ma vie .” Then a couple 
of mad and dissolute pieces from the “Fites galantes “He! Bon- 
soir, la Lune!” and above all the macabre proposal, answered with 
giggles: “Mourons ensemble, voulez-vous?” — As for Blake’s ex- 
traordinary poesy, he set to music the stanzas about the rose, 
whose life was destroyed by the dark secret love of the worm 
which found its way into her crimson bed. Then the uncanny 
sixteen lines of “A Poison Tree,” where the poet waters his 
wrath with his tears, suns it with smiles and soft deceitful wiles, 
so that an alluring apple ripens, with which the thievish friend 
poisons himself: to the hater’s joy he lies dead in the morning be- 
neath the tree. The evil simplicity of the verse was completely 
reproduced in the music. But I was even more profoundly im- 
pressed at the first hearing by a song to words by Blake, a dream 
of a chapel all of gold before which stand people weeping, 
mourning, worshipping, not daring to enter in. There rises the 
figure of a serpent who knows how by force and force and force 


1 66 

to make an entry into the shrine; the slimy length of its body it 
drags along the costly floor and gains the altar, where it vomits 
its poison out on the bread and on the wine. “So,” ends the poet, 
with desperate logic, therefore and thereupon, “I turned into a 
sty and laid me down among the swine.” The dream anguish of 
the vision, the growing terror, the horror of pollution, finally the 
wild renunciation of a humanity dishonoured by the sight — all 
this was reproduced with astonishing power in Adrian’s setting. 

But these are later things, though all of them belong to Lever- 
kiihn’s Leipzig years. On that evening, then, after my arrival we 
heard the Schaff-Gosch concert together and next day visited 
Wendell Kretschmar, who spoke to me privately about Adrian’s 
progress in a way that made me proud and glad. Nothing, he said, 
did he fear less, than ever to have to regret his summons to a mu- 
sical career. A man so self-assured, so fastidious in matters of taste 
and “pleasing the public,” would of course have difficulties, out- 
wardly as well as inwardly; but that was quite right, in such a 
case, since only art could give body to a life which otherwise 
would bore itself to death with its own facility. — I enrolled my- 
self with Lautensack and the famous Bermeter, glad that I need 
not hear any more theology for Adrian’s sake; and allowed myself 
to be introduced to the circle at Cafe Central, a sort of bohemian 
club, which had pre-empted a smoky den in the tavern, where the 
members read the papers afternoons, played chess, and discussed 
cultural events. They were students from the conservatoires, 
painters, writers, young publishers, also beginning lawyers with 
an interest in the arts, a few actors, members of the Leipzig Kam- 
merspiele, under strong literary influence — and so on. Rudiger 
Schildknapp, the translator, considerably older than we were, at 
the beginning of the thirties, belonged, as I have said, to this 
group. As he was the only one with whom Adrian stood on terms 
of any intimacy, I too approached him, and spent many horns 
with them both together. That I had a critical eye on the man 
whom Adrian dignified with his friendship will, I fear, be evident 
in the present sketch of his personality, though I will endeavour, 
as I always have endeavoured, to do him justice. 

Schildknapp was bom in a middle-sized town in Silesia, the son 
of a post-office official whose position elevated him above the 
lower ranks without leading to the higher administrative posts re- 
served for men with university degrees. Such a position requires 
no certificate or juristic training; it is arrived at after a term of 
years of preliminary service by passing the examinations for sec- 
retary in chief. Such had been the career of the elder Schild- 



knapp. He was a man of proper upbringing and good form, also 
socially ambitious; but the Prussian hierarchy either shut him out 
of the upper circles of the town or, if they did by exception ad- 
mit him, gave him to taste humiliation there. Thus he quarrelled 
with his lot and was an aggrieved man, a grumbler, visiting his 
unsuccessful career on his own family’s head. Rudiger, his son, 
portrayed to us very vividly, filial respect giving way before a 
seme of the ridiculous, how the father’s social embitterment had 
poisoned his own, his mother’s and his brothers’ and sisters’ lives; 
the more because it expressed itself, in accordance with the man’s 
refinement, not in gross unpleasantness but as a finer capacity for 
suffering, and an exaggerated self-pity. He might come to the 
table and bite violently on a cherry-stone in the fruit soup, break- 
ing a crown on one of his teeth. “Yes, you see,” he would say, his 
voice trembling, stretching out his hands, “that is how it is, that’s 
what happens to me, that is the way I am, it is in myself, it has to 
be like this! I had looked forward to this meal, and felt some ap- 
petite; it is a warm day and the cold fruit dish had promised me 
some refreshment. Then this has to happen. Good, you can see 
that joy is not my portion. I give it up. I will go back to my 
room. I hope you will enjoy it,” he would finish in a dying voice, 
and quit the table, well knowing that joy would certainly not be 
their portion either. 

The reader can picture Adrian’s mirth at the drolly dejected 
reproduction of scenes experienced with youthful intensity. Of 
course we had always to check our merriment and remember that 
this was the narrator’s father we were dealing with. Rudiger as- 
sured us that the elder’s feeling of social inferiority had commu- 
nicated itself to them all in greater or less degree: he himself had 
taken it with him, a sort of spiritual wound, from his parents’ 
house. Apparently his irritation over it was one of the reasons 
why he would not give his father the satisfaction of wiping out 
the stain in the person of his son, for he had frustrated the elder’s 
hope of seeing the younger a member of government. Rudiger 
had finished at the gymnasium and gone to the university. But he 
had not even got so far as an assessorship, devoting himself to lit- 
erature instead, and preferring to forfeit any assistance from home 
rather than to satisfy the father’s obnoxious wishes. He wrote 
poems in free verse, critical essays and short stories in a neat prose 
style. But partly under economic pressure, partly also because his 
own production was not exactly copious, he devoted most of his 
time to translation, chiefly from his favourite language, English. 
He not only supplied several publishers with German versions of 



English and American literary provender, but also got himself 
commissioned by a Munich publisher of de luxe editions and lit- 
erary curiosities to translate English classics, Skelton’s dramatic 
moralities, some pieces of Fletcher and Webster, certain didactic 
poems of Pope, and he was responsible for excellent German edi- 
tions of Swift and Richardson. He supplied this sort of product 
with well-found prefaces, and contributed to his translations a 
great deal of conscientiousness, taste, and feeling for style, like- 
wise a preoccupation with the exactness of the reproduction, 
matching phrase for phrase and falling more and more victim to 
the charms and penalties of translation. But his work was ac- 
companied by a mental state which on another plane resembled 
his father’s. He felt himself to be a bom writer, and spoke bitterly 
of being driven by necessity to till another’s field, wearing him- 
self out on work which only distinguished him in a way he found 
insulting. He wanted to be a poet, in his own estimation he was 
one; that on account of his tiresome daily bread he had to sink to 
a middleman’s position in literature put him in a critical and de- 
rogatory frame towards the contributions of others and was the 
subject of his daily plaint. “If only I had time,” he used to say, 
“if I could work instead of drudging, I would show them!” 
Adrian was inclined to believe it, but I, perhaps judging too 
harshly, suspected that what he considered an obstacle was really 
a welcome pretext with which he deceived himself over his lack 
of a genuine and telling creative impulse. 

With all this, one must not imagine him as morose or sullen; 
on the contrary he was very jolly, even rather feather-headed, 
gifted with a definitely Anglo-Saxon sense of humour and in char- 
acter just that which the English call boyish. He was always im- 
mediately acquainted with all the sons of Albion who came to 
Leipzig as tourists, idlers, music-students; talked with them with 
complete elective adaptation of his speech to theirs, chattering 
nonsense thirteen to the dozen and imitating irresistibly their 
struggles in German, their accents, their all too correct mistakes 
in ordinary everyday exchange, their foreign weakness for the 
written language- as for instance Bestchtigsn Sie jenesf when all 
they meant was: Sehen Sie das! And he looked just like them. I 
have not yet mentioned his appearance: it was very good, and — 
apart from the clothes, shabby and always the same, to which his 
poverty condemned him — elegant and gentlemanly, and rather 
sporting. His features were striking, their aristocratic character 
marred only by a soft, loose-lipped mouth such as I have often 
noticed among Silesians. Tall, broad-shouldered, long-legged, nar- 



row-hipped, he wore day in, day out the same checked breeches, 
the worse for wear, long woollen stockings, stout yellow shoes, a 
coarse linen shirt open at the throat, and over it a jacket of a 
colour already vague, with sleeves that were a httle short. But his 
hands were very aristocratic, with long fingers and beautifully 
shaped, oval, rounded nails. The whole was so undeniably “por- 
trait of a gentleman” that in his everyday clothes, in themselves 
an offense to society, he could frequent circles where evening 
dress was the rule. The women preferred him just as he was to 
his rivals in correct black and white, and at such receptions he 
might be seen surrounded by unaffectedly admiring fe minini ty. 

And yet' And again! His needy exterior, excused by the tire- 
some want of money, could not affect adversely his rank as cava- 
lier and gentleman or prevent the native truth from showing 
through and counteracting it. But this very “truth” was itself m 
part a deception, and in this complicated sense Schildknapp was 
a fraud. He looked hke an athlete, but his looks were .misleading, 
for he practised no sport, except a little skiing with his English 
friends m winter in the Saxon Alps; and he was subject to a ca- 
tarrh of the bladder, which in my opinion was not quite negli- 
gible. Despite his tanned face and broad shoulders his health was 
not always sound and as a younger man he had spit blood; in 
other words, tended to be tubercular. The women were not quite 
so lucky with him as he was with them, so far as I saw; at least 
not individually, for collectively they enjoyed his entire devotion. 
It was a roving, all-embracing devotion, it referred to the sex as 
such, and the possibilities for happiness presented to him by the 
entire world; for the single instance found him inactive, frugal, 
reserved. That he could have as many love-affairs as he chose 
seemed to satisfy him, it was as though he shrank from every con- 
nection with the actual because he saw therein a theft from the 
possible. The potential was his kingdom, its endless spaces his do- 
main— therein and thus far he was really a poet. He had con- 
cluded from his name that his forebears had been giant attendants 
on knights and princes, and although he had never sat a horse, 
nor ever tried to do so, he felt himself a born horseman. He 
ascribed it to atavistic memory, a blood heritage, that he very 
often dreamed of riding; he was uncommonly convincing when 
he showed us how natural it was for him to hold the reins in the 
left hand and pat the horse’s neck with the right. — The most 
common phrase in his mouth was “One ought to.” It was the for- 
mula for a wistful reflection upon possibilities for the fulfilment 
of which the resolve was lacking. One ought to do — this and that, 




have this or that. One ought to write a novel about Leipzig so- 
ciety: one ought, if even as a dish-washer, to take a trip round 
the world; one ought to study physics, astronomy; one ought to 
acquire a little land and cultivate the soil in the sweat of one’s 
brow. If we went into a grocery to have some coffee ground, he 
was capable of saying when we came out, with a contemplative 
head-shake: “One ought to keep a grocery.” 

I have referred to his feeling of independence. It had expressed 
itself early, in his rejection of government service and choice of a 
free-lance life. Yet he was on the other hand die servant of many 
gendemen and had something of the parasite about him. And why 
should he not, with his narrow means, make use of his good ex- 
terior and social popularity? He got himself invited out a good 
deal, ate luncheon here and there in Leipzig houses, even in rich 
Jewish ones, though one might hear him drop anti-Semitic re- 
marks. People who feel slighted, not treated according to their 
deserts, yet rejoice in an aristocratic physique, often seek satisfac- 
tion in racial self-assertion. The special thing in his case was that 
he did not like the Germans either, was saturated with their social 
and national sense of inferiority and expressed it by saying that he 
would just as soon or sooner stick with the Jews. On their side, 
the Jewish publishers’ wives and bankers’ ladies looked up to him 
with the profound admiration of their race for German master- 
blood and long legs and greatly enjoyed making him presents: the 
knitted stockings, belts, sweaters, and scarves which he wore were 
mostly gifts, and not always quite unprompted. When he went 
shopping with a lady he might point to something and say: “Well, 
I would not spend any money on that. At most I would take it 
for a gift.” And took it for a gift, with the bearing of one who 
had certainly said he would not give money for it. For the rest, 
he asserted his independence to himself and others by the funda- 
mental refusal to be obliging: when one needed him, he was defi- 
nitely not to be had. If a place was vacant at dinner and he was 
asked to fill in, he unfailingly declined. If somebody wished to 
assure himself of an agreeable companion for a prescribed sojourn 
at a cure, Schildknapp’s refusal was the more certain the clearer 
it was that the other set store by his company. It was thus he had 
rejected Adrian’s proposal that he make the libretto for Love’s 
Labour’s Lost. Yet he was fond of Adrian, he was really attached 
to him, and Adrian did not take it ill that he refused. He was al- 
together very tolerant of Schildknapp’s weaknesses, over which 
the man himself laughed; and much too grateful for his sympa- 
thetic talk, his stories about his father, his English whimsies, to have 



wished to bear him a grudge. I have never seen Adrian laugh so 
much, laugh even to tears, as when he and Rudiger Schildknapp 
were together. A true humorist, the latter knew how to draw a mo- 
mentarily overwhelming funniness from the most unlikely things. It 
is a fact that the chewing of a dry rusk fills the ears of the chewer 
with a deafening crunch, shutting him away from the outer 
world; and Schildknapp demonstrated at tea that a rusk-chewing 
company could not possibly understand each other and would 
have to confine themselves to “What did you say?” “Did you 
speak?” “Just a moment, please!” How Adrian would laugh when 
Schildknapp fell out with his own reflection in the mirror! He 
was vain, that is, not in a common way, but in poetic reference to 
the endless potential of happiness in the world, far outbidding his 
own power of resolution, for which he wished to keep himself 
young and handsome; he was aggrieved at the tendency of his 
face to be prematurely wrinkled and weather-beaten. And his 
mouth did have something old-man about it, together with the 
nose drooping straight down over it, which otherwise one was 
willing to call classic. One could readily see how Rudiger would 
look when he was old, adding a wrinkled brow, lines from nose 
to mouth, and various crow’s-feet. He would approach his fea- 
tures mistrustfully to the glass, pull a wry face, hold his chin with 
thumb and forefinger, stroke his cheek in disgust and then wave 
his face away with the other hand so expressively that we, Adrian 
and I, burst out in loud laughter. 

What I have not yet mentioned is that his eyes were exactly the 
same colour as Adrian’s. There was really a remarkable similarity: 
they showed just the same mixture of blue, grey, and green, and 
both had the same rust-coloured ring round the pupil. However 
strange it may sound, it always seemed to me, seemed so with a 
certain soothing conviction, that Adrian’s laughter-loving friend- 
ship for Schildknapp had to do with this likeness in the colour of 
their eyes — which is equivalent to saying that it rested upon an 
indifference as profound as it was light-hearted. I scarcely need 
to add that they always addressed each other with their last names 
and Sie. If I did not know how to entertain Adrian as Schild- 
knapp did, I did have our childhood tie, our du, to my advantage 
over the Silesian. 


This morning, while my good Helene was preparing our morning 
drink and a brisk Upper Bavarian autumn day began to clear 
away the usual early mists, I read in my paper of the successful 
revival of our submarine warfare, to which inside twenty-four 
hours not less than twelve ships, among them two large passen- 
ger steamers, an English and a Brazilian, with five hundred pas- 
sengers, have fallen victim. We owe this success to a new torpedo 
of fabulous properties which German technicians have succeeded 
in constructing, and I cannot repress a certain satisfaction over 
our ever alert spirit of invention, our national gift of not being 
swerved aside by however many set-backs. It stands wholly and 
entirely at the service of the regime which brought us into this 
war, laid the Continent literally at our feet and replaced the in- 
tellectual’s dream of a European Germany with the upsetting, 
rather brittle reality, intolerable, so it seems to the rest of the 
world, of a German Europe. But my involuntary satisfaction gives 
way to the thought that such incidental triumphs as the new sink- 
ings or the splendid commando feat of snatching the fallen dicta- 
tor of Italy from his prison can only serve to arouse false hopes 
and lengthen out a war which in the view of any reasonable and 
sensible man can no longer be won. Such is also the opinion of 
the head of our Freising theological seminary. Monsignor Hinter- 
pfortner; he has confessed it to me in so many words, in private 
conversation as we sat over our evening glasses — a man who has 
nothing in common with the passionate scholar about whom in 
the summer the Munich student uprising centred, so horribly 
quenched in blood. Monsignor Hinterpfortner’s knowledge of the 
world permits him no illusion, not even that which clings to the 
distinction between losing the war and not winning it. For that 
only veils the truth that we have played va banque and that the 
failure of our hopes of world conquest amounts to a first-class na- 
tional catastrophe. 

I say all this to remind the reader of the historical conditions 
under which I am setting down Leverkuhn’s biography, and to 



point out how the excited state bound up with my subject con- 
stantly assimilates itself to that produced by the shattering events 
of the time. I do not speak of distraction, for — at least so it seems 
to me — events have not actually the power of distracting me 
from my task. Even so, and despite my personal security, I may 
say that the times are not precisely favourable to the steady pur- 
suance of such a work as this. And, moreover, just during the 
Munich disorders and executions, I got an influenza with fever 
and chills, which for ten days confined me to my bed and neces- 
sarily affected for some time the physical and mental powers of a 
man now sixty years old. It is no wonder that spring and summer 
have passed into autumn, and autumn is now well advanced, since 
I committed to paper the first lines of this narrative Meanwhile 
we have experienced the destruction of our noble cities from the 
air, a destruction that would cry to heaven if we who suffer were 
not ourselves laden with guilt. As it is, the cry is smothered m our 
throats; like King Claudius’s prayer, it can “never to heaven go.” 
There is outcry over these crimes against culture, crimes that we 
ourselves invoked; how strange it sounds m the mouths of those 
who trod the boards of history as the heralds and bringers of a 
world-rejuvenating barbarism, revelling m atrocity. Several times 
the shattering, headlong destruction has come breath-takmgly 
near my retreat. The frightful bombardment of the city of Durer 
and Willibald Pirkheimer was no remote event; and when the last 
judgment fell on Munich too, I sat pallid, shaking like the walls, 
the doors, and the windowpanes in my study — and with trem- 
bling hand wrote on at this story of a life. For my hand trembles 
in any case, on account of my subject; it cannot much matter to 
me that it trembles a little more due to terror from without. 

We have lived through, with the sort of hope and pride which 
the unfolding of German might must rouse in us, the new offen- 
sive of our Wehrmacht against the Russian hordes defending their 
inhospitable but obviously dearly loved land. It was an offensive 
which after a few weeks passed over into a Russian one and since 
then has led to endless, unavoidable abandonment of territory — 
to speak only of territory. With profound consternation w r e read 
of the landing of American and Canadian troops on the south- 
east coast of Sicily, the fall of Syracuse, Catania, Messina, Taor- 
mina. We learned, with a mixture of terror and envy — pierced 
by the knowledge that we ourselves were not capable of it, in 
either a good or a bad sense — how a country whose mental state 
still permitted it to draw the foregone conclusion from a succes- 
sion of scandalous defeats and losses relieved itself of its great man, 



in order somewhat later to submit to unconditional surrender. 
That is what the world demands of us too, but to consent to it 
our most desperate situation would still be much too holy and 
dear. Yes, we are an utterly different people; we deny and reject 
the foregone conclusion, we are a people of mightily tragic soul, 
and our love belongs to fate — to any fate, if only it be one, even 
destruction kindling heaven with the crimson flames of the death 
of the gods' 

The advance of the Muscovites into our destined granary, the 
Ukraine, and the elastic retreat of our troops to the Dnieper line 
accompanied my work, or rather my work accompanied those 
events. Some days since, the untenability of this defence line too 
seems proved, although our Fuhrer, hurrying up, ordered a 
mighty halt to the retreat, uttered his trenchant rebuke, the 
words “Stalingrad psychosis,” and commanded that the line of the 
Dnieper be held at all costs. The price, any price, was paid, in 
vain, whither, how far, the red flood the papers speak of will still 
pour on is left to our powers of imagination — and these are al- 
ready inclined to reckless excess. For it belongs in the realm of the 
fantastic, it offends against all order and expectation that Ger- 
many itself should become the theatre of one of Germany’s wars. 
Twenty-five years ago at the very last moment we escaped that 
fate. But now our increasingly tragic and heroic psychology 
seems to prevent us from quitting a lost cause before the un- 
thinkable becomes fact. Thank God, wide stretches still lie be- 
tween our home soil and destruction rushing on from the east. We 
may be prepared to take some painful losses now on this front in 
order to defend in greater strength our European territory against 
the deadly enemies of the German order advancing from the west. 
The invasion of our beautiful Sicily by no means proved that it was 
possible for the foe to gain a footing on the Italian mainland. But 
unhappily it did turn out to be possible, while in Naples last week 
a communistic revolt broke out in support of the Allies which 
made that city appear no longer a« place worthy of German 
troops. After conscientious destruction of the library, and leaving 
a time-bomb behind in the post-office, we made our exit with. our 
heads high. And now there is talk of invasion tests in the Channel, 
supposed to be covered with ships, and the civilian takes unlaw- 
ful leave to ask himself whether what happened in Italy and 
farther up the peninsula can happen, all the prescribed beliefs in 
the inviolability of Fortress Europa to the contrary, also in France 
or some other place. 

Yes, Monsignor Hinterpfortner is right: we are lost. In other 



words, the war is lost; but that means more than a lost campaign, 
it means in very truth that we are lost: our character, our cause, 
our hope, our history. It is all up with Germany, it will be all up 
with her. She is marked down for collape, economic, political, 
moral, spiritual, in short all-embracing, unparalleled, final col- 
lape. I suppose I have not wished for it, this that threatens, for 
it is madness and despair. I suppose I have not wished for it, be- 
cause my pity is too deep, my grief and sympathy are with this 
unhappy nation, when I think of the exaltation and blind ardour 
of its uprising, the breakmg-out, the breaking-up, the breaking- 
down; the purifying and fresh start, the national new birth of ten 
years ago, that seemingly religious intoxication — which then be- 
trayed itself to any intelligent person for what it was by its crud- 
ity, "vulgarity, gangsterism, sadism, degradation, filthiness - ah, 
how unmistakably it bore within itself the seeds of this whole 
war! My heart contracts painfully at the thought of that enor- 
mous investment of faith, zeal, lofty historic emotion; all this we 
made, all this is now puffed away in a bankruptcy without com- 
pare. No, surely I did not want it, and yet — I have been driven 
to want it, I wish for it today and will welcome it, out of hatred 
for the outrageous contempt of reason, the vicious violation of 
the truth, the cheap, filthy backstairs mythology, the criminal deg- 
radation and confusion of standards; the abuse, corruption, and 
blackmail of all that was good, genuine, trusting, and trustworthy 
in our old Germany. For liars and lickspittles mixed us a poison 
draught and took away our senses. We drank — for we Germans 
perennially yearn for intoxication — and under its spell, through 
years of deluded high living, we committed a superfluity of 
shameful deeds, which must now be paid for. With what? I have 
already used the word, together with the word “despair” I wrote 
it. I will not repeat it: not twice could I control my horror or 
my trembling fingers to set it down again. 


* * 

Asterisks too are a refreshment for the eye and mind of the 
reader. One does not always need the greater articulation of a 
Roman numeral, and I could scarcely give the character of a main 
section to the above excursus into a present outside of Adrian 
Leverkuhn’s life and work. No, asterisks will serve capitally to 
give proportion to my page; and below them I will round out 
this section with some further information about Adrian’s Leip- 
zig years, though I realize that as a chapter it makes an impres- 


17 6 

sion of heterogeneous elements — as though it were not enough 
that I did not succeed better with what came before. I have re- 
read it all: Adrian’s dramatic wishes and plans, his earliest songs, 
the painful gaze that he had acquired during our separation; the 
intellectual fascinations of Shakespearian comedy, Leverkuhn’s 
emphasis on foreign songs and his own shy cosmopolitanism; then 
the bohemian Cafe Central club, winding up with the portrait of 
Rudiger Schildknapp, given in perhaps unjustifiable detail. And 
I quite properly ask myself whether such uneven material can 
actually make up a single chapter. But let me remember that from 
the first I had to reproach myself for the absence of a controlled 
and regular structure in my work. My excuse is always the same: 
my subject is too close to me. What is lacking is distance, con- 
trast, mere differentiation between the material and the hand that 
shapes it. Have I not said more than once that the life I am treat- 
ing of was nearer to me, dearer, more moving than my own? And 
being so near, so moving, and so intimate, it is not mere “mate- 
rial” but a person, and that does not lend itself to artistic treat- 
ment. Far be it from me to deny the seriousness of art; but when 
it becomes serious, then one rejects art and is not capable of it. I 
can only repeat that paragraphs and asterisks are in this book 
merely a concession to the eyes of the reader, and that I, if I had 
my way, would write down the whole in one burst and one 
breath, without any division, yes, without paragraphing or inter- 
missions. I simply have not the courage to submit such an insen- 
sate text to the eyes of the reading public. 


* * 

Having spent a year with Adrian in Leipzig, I know how he 
lived during the other three of his stay there; his manner of life 
being so regular and conservative that I found it rigid and some- 
times even depressing. Not for nothing, in that first letter, had he 
expressed his sympathy for Chopin’s lack of adventurous spirit, 
his “not wanting to know.” He too wanted to know nothing, see 
nothing, actually experience nothing, at least not in any obvious, 
exterior sense or the word. He was not out for change, new sense 
impressions, distraction, recreation. As for the last, he liked to 
make fun of people who are constantly having “a little change,” 
constantly getting brown and strong — and nobody knew for 
what. “Relaxation,” he said, “is for those to whom it does no 
good.” He was not interested in travel for the sake of sightseeing 
or “culture.” He scorned the delight of the eye, and sensitive as his 



hearing was, just so little had he ever felt urged to train his sight in 
the forms of plastic art. The distinction between eye-men and 
ear-men he considered mdefeasibly valid and correct and counted 
himself definitely among the latter. As for me, I have never 
thought such a distinction could be followed through thick and 
thin, and in his case I never quite believed in the unwillingness 
and reluctance of the eye. To be sure, Goethe too says that music 
is some thing inborn and native, requiring no great nourishment 
from outside and no experience drawn from life. But after all 
there is the inner vision, the perception, which is something dif- 
ferent and comprehends more than mere seeing. And more than 
that, it is profoundly contradictory that a man should have, as 
Leverkuhn did, some feeling for the human eye, which after all 
speaks only to the eye, and yet refuse to perceive the outer world 
through that organ. I need only mention the names of Marie 
Godeau, Rudi Schwerdtfeger, and Nepomuk Schneidewein to 
bring home to myself Adrian’s receptivity, yes, weakness, for the 
magic of the eye, the black and the blue. Of course I am quite 
clear that I am doing wrong to bombard the reader with unfa- 
miliar names when the actual appearance of their owners in these 
pages is still far off; it is a barefaced blunder which may well make 
one question the freedom of the will. What, indeed, is free will? 

I am quite aware that I have put down under a compulsion these 
too empty, too early names. 

Adrian’s journey to Graz, which did not occur for the jour- 
ney’s sake, was one interruption in the even flow of his life. 
Another was the excursion with Schildknapp to the sea, the fruit 
of which one can claim to be that one-movement symphonic 
tone-poem. The third exception, related to the second, was a 
journey to Basel, which he made in company with his teacher 
Kretschmar to attend the performances of sacred music of the 
baroque period, which the Basel Chamber Choir gave in St. Mar- 
tin’s Church. Kretschmar was to play the organ. They gave 
Monteverdi’s Magnificat, some organ studies by Frescobaldi, an 
oratorio by Carissimi, and a cantata by Buxtehude. This “ musica 
riservata” made a strong impression on Adrian, as a music of emo- 
tion, which in a rebound from the constructivism of the Nether- 
landers treated the Bible word with astonishing human freedom, 
with a declamatory expressiveness, and clothed it in a boldly de- 
scriptive instrumental garb. The impression it made was very 
strong and lasting. He wrote and spoke much to me about this 
outburst of modernity in Monteverdi’s musical devices; he spent 
much time in the Leipzig library, and practised Carissimi’s Jeph- 



tha and the Psalms of David by Schiitz. Who could fail to recog- 
nize in the quasi-ecclesiastical music of his later years, the Apoca- 
lypse and the Faustus , the stylistic influence of this madrigalism? 
Always dominant in him was a will to go to extremes of expres- 
sion; together with the intellectual passion for austere order, the 
linear style of the Netherlands composers. In other words, heat 
and cold prevail alongside each other in his work; sometimes in 
moments of the greatest genius they play into each other, the es- 
pressivo takes hold of the strict counterpoint, the objective blushes 
with feeling. One gets the impression of a glowing mould; this, 
like nothing else, has brought home to me the idea of the dae- 

As for the connection between Adrian’s first journey to Switz- 
erland and the earlier one to Sylt, it had come about thus: that 
little mountain land, culturally so active and unhampered, had 
and has a Society of Musicians, a Tonkiinstler Verein, which 
holds regular orchestral practices, the so-called lectures d’orches- 
tre. A jury of authorities, that is, permits young aspirants to pre- 
sent their compositions, which are then given a try-out by one of 
the symphony orchestras of the country and its conductor, the 
, public being excluded and only professionals admitted. Thus the 
young composer has an opportunity to hear his creation, to get 
experience and have his imagination instructed by the reality of 
sound. Such a try-out was held in Geneva at almost the same time 
with the Basel concert, by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, 
and Wendell Kretschmar had succeeded through his connections 
in having Adrian’s Meerleuchten — by exception the work of a 
young German — put on the program. For Adrian it was a com- 
plete surprise: Kretschmar had amused himself by keeping him 
in the dark. He still knew nothing when he went with his teacher 
from Basel to Geneva for the trial performance, and there 
sounded under Herr Ansermet’s baton his “root treatment,” that 
piece of darkly sparkling impressionism which he himself did not 
take seriously, had not taken seriously even when he wrote it. Of 
course while it was being performed he sat on pins and needles. 
To know himself being identified by the audience with an 
achievement which he himself has got beyond and which for him 
means only a trifling with something not taken in earnest: that 
must be for the artist a grotesque torment. Thank God, signs of 
applause or displeasure were forbidden at these performances. 
Privately he received words of praise or blame, exception was 
taken, shortcomings pointed out in French and German; he said 
nothing, either way, and anyhow he agreed with no one. A week 



or ten days he remained with Kretschmar in Geneva, Basel and 
Zurich and came into brief contact with musical circles there. 
They will not have had much joy of him, nor even known how 
to take him, at least m so far as they set store by inoffensiveness, 
expansiveness, friendly responsiveness. Individuals here and there 
might have been touched by his shyness and understood the soli- 
tude that wrapped him, the difficulties of his life — indeed, I know 
that such was the case and I find it illuminating. In my experience 
there is in Switzerland much feeling for suffering, much under- 
standing of it, which, more than in other places of advanced cul- 
ture, for instance intellectual Paris, is bound up with the old civic 
life of the towns. Here was a hidden point of contact. On the 
other hand, the introverted Swiss mistrust of the Reich-German 
met here a special case of German mistrust of the “world” — 
strange as it may seem to apply the word “world” to the tight 
little neighbouring country by way of contrasting it with the 
broad and mighty German Reich with its immense cities. But the 
comparison has indisputable justice on its side. Switzerland, neu- 
tral, many-tongued, affected by French influence, open to west- 
ern airs, is actually, despite its small size, far more “world,” far 
more European territory than the political colossus on the north, 
where the word “international” has long been a reproach, and a 
smug provincialism has made the air spoilt and stuffy. I have 
already spoken of Adrian’s inner cosmopolitanism. But German 
citizenship of the world was always something different from 
worldliness; and my friend was just the soul to be made uneasy 
by the “world,” and feel himself outside of it. A few days earlier 
than Kretschmar he returned to Leipzig, certainly a world-minded 
city, yet one where the world is present more as a guest than at 
home; that city where people talk so outlandishly — and where 
first desire had touched his pride. That experience was profound, 
it was shattering; he had not expected it from the world, and I 
think it did much to estrange him from it. It is indeed quite false, 
and nothing but German provincial conceitedness, to deny depth 
to the world* But the depth is a world-depth; and it is a destiny, 
like another, which one must accept as such, to be born to the 
provincial — and thus so much the more uncanny — depth of 

Adrian kept witnout changing during the whole four and a half 
years he spent in Leipzig his two-room quarters in Peterstrasse, 
near the Collegium Beat# Virginis, where he had again pinned the 
magic square above his cottage piano. He attended lectures in 
philosophy and the history or music; read and excerpted in the 



vent a word, sharp-feelingness, in these matters was of extreme 
incorruptibility. Insights fundamentally remote from my own na- 
tive easy-gomgness he expressed in talk as casual aper§us; and they 
pained me, not because of wounded feeling but on his account; 
they hurt, depressed, distressed me, because I saw in them danger- 
ous aggravations of his nature, inhibitions hampering the develop- 
ment of his gifts. I have heard him say. 

“The work of art 5 It is a fraud. It is something the burgher 
wishes there still were. It is contrary to truth, contrary to senous 
art. Genuine and serious is only the very short, the highly con- 
sistent musical moment. ...” 

How should that not have troubled me, when after all I knew 
that he himself aspired to a “work,” and was planning an opera! 

Again, I have heard him say: “Pretence and play have the con- 
science of art against them today. Art would like to stop being 
pretence and play, it would like to become knowledge.” 

But what ceases to conform to his definition, does that not 
cease to exist altogether? And how will art live as knowledge 5 I 
recalled what he had written from Halle to Kretschmar about 
the extension of the kingdom of the banal. Kretschmar had not 
allowed it to upset his belief in the calling of his pupil. But these 
later criticisms, levelled against pretence and play, in other words 
against form itself, seemed to indicate such an extension of the 
kingdom of the banal, of the no longer permissible, that it threat- 
ened to swallow up art itself. With deep concern I asked myself 
what strain and effort, intellectual tricks, by-ways, and ironies 
would be necessary to save it, to reconquer it, and to arrive at a 
work which as a travesty of innocence confessed to the state of 
knowledge from which it was to be won! 

My poor friend had been instructed one day, or rather one 
night, from frightful lips, by an awful ally, in more detail on the 
subject I here touch upon. The document is extant, I will report 
on it in its proper place. It first illuminated and clarified the in- 
stinctive fears which Adrian’s remarks aroused in me. But what I 
called above the “travesty of innocence”: how often, from early 
on, did it strangely stand out in his work! That work contains, on 
a developed musical plane, against a background of the most ex- 
treme tensi ons, “banalities” — of course not in a sentimental sense 
nor in that of a buoyant complacency, but banalities rather in the 
sense of a technical primitivism, specimens of naivete or sham 
naivete which Meister Kretschmar, in so gifted a pupil, let pass 
with a smile. He did so, certainly, because he understood them 
not as first-degree naivetes, if I may so express myself, but as 


dr. faustus 

i. UA 

, . .r . nfher side of the new and cheap: as audacities 

something the ° , , primitive. The thirteen Brentano 

dressed m the garment ot tne pnmiuvc. x 

soncrs are also to be regarded in this light. To them, beiore i 
W^the subiect I must certainly devote a few words; they often 
Z J one Z at onS a mockery and a glorification of the fun- 
damental, a painfully reminiscent ironic treatment of tonality, of 
the tempered system, of traditional music itself. 

ThaTidria/in these Leipzig years so zealously devoted him- 
self to the composition of lieder doubtless came about because he 
t ids iXi c mar rying of music with words as a preparation 
h« had in mind. Probably it ah 
so connecS with the scruples he felt on the score of the destiny, 
Z Zone situation of J itself, of *0 

misdoubted form, calling it pretence and play. Thus the small 
^ Trie form of the Bed might stand to him as the most accept- 
Sfe W sSol and truesf; it might seem to him soon^ to 
fulfil his theoretic demand for brevity and condensation. But it 
is not only that several of these productions, as for instance the 
“O lieb Madel with the letter symbol, further the Hymns, the 
“Lustieen Musikanten” the “Huntsman to the Shepherds, and 
othSTe qSe long. Yet Leverldihn wanted them all regarded , 
and treated^ogether! as a whole, proceeding from jone definite, 
fundamental stylistic conception, the congenial contact with a 

particular, anSngly lofty, and deeply TTSSiS’buTd- 
He would never permit the performance of smglepieces but al 
wavs only the ftil cycle, a stem reservation, which in Ius hfe- 
timTstood very much in the way of their performance in pubhc, 
TSy sSone-of them, the^lty Musicians,” ts written or 
a quintet of voices, mother, daughter, the two brothers and the 
b ov who “early broke his leg”; that is, for alto, soprano, baritone, 
tenor, and a child’s voice; these, partly in emembie partly solb 
partly in duet (the two brothers) must perforin No. 4 of the 
Sxle It was the first one that Adrian orchestrated, or more cor- 
rectly, he set it at once for a small orchestra of stnngs wood- 
wind, and percussion; for in the strange poem much is said ofthe 
pipes and tambourine, the bells and cymbals, the ) 1 y 

tnUs, with which the fantastic, frightened httie troupe, by mgh 

^hen us no human eye does see” draws into the magic spell of 
its airs the lovers in their chamber, the d ^ ken |^ 1 ^ renad J 
maiden. In mood and spirit the piece, like a p -,i t 

the music at once lovely and tortured, are unique. And sdB I 
to award it the palm among the thirteen, several of which 



challenge music in a more inward sense and fulfil themselves 
more deeply in it than this one which treats of music in words. 

“Grossmutter Schlangenkochin” is another one of the songs, 
this “Maria, ivo bist du zur Stube gewesen?” This seven times 
repeated “Oh woe, Frau Mother, what woe!” that with incredi- 
bly intuitive art actually calls up the unearthly thrills and shud- 
ders so familiar to us in the field of the German folk-song. For it 
is really the case that this music, wise and true and over-shrewd, 
here continually and painfully woos the folk-air. The wooing 
remains unrealized, it is there and not there, sounds fleetingly, 
echoes, fades into a style musically foreign to it, from which 
after all it constantly seeks to escape. The artistic effect is strik- 
ing: it appears like a cultural paradox, which by inversion of the 
natural course of development, where the refined and intellectual 
grow out of the elementary, the former here plays the role of 
the original, out of which the simple continually strives to wrest 
itself free. 

Wafteth the meaning pure of the stars 
Soft through the distance unto my ears — 

that is the sound, almost lost in space, the cosmic ozone of 
another poem, wherein spirits in golden barks traverse the heav- 
enly sea and the ringing course of gleaming songs wreathes itself 
down and wells up again: 

All is so gently and friendly combining. 

Hand seeketh hand in sympathy kind, 

Lights through the night wind trusting, consoling, 

All is in union for ever entwined. 

Very rarely in all literature have word and music met and mar- 
ried as here. Here music turns its eye upon itself and looks at its 
own being: These notes, that consoling and trusting offer each 
other the hand; that weaving and winding of all things in likeness 
and change — of such it is, and Adrian Leverkiihn is its youthful 

Kretschmar, before he left Leipzig to become first Kapellmeister 
in the Liibeck State Opera House, saw to the publication of the 
Brentano songs. Schott in Mainz took them on commission, that 
is, Adrian, with Kretschmar’s and my help (we both shared in it) 
guaranteed the cost of printing and remained the owner, in that 
he assured the publishers of a share in the profits amounting to 
twenty per cent of the net receipts. He strictly supervised the 



piano reduction, demanded a rough, mat paper, quarto format, 
wide margins, and notes printed not too close together. And he 
insisted upon a note at the beginning to the effect that perform- 
ances in clubs and concerts were only by the author’s permission 
and only permitted for all thirteen pieces as a whole. This was 
taken offence at as pretentious and, together with the boldness 
of the music itself, put difficulties in the way of their becoming 
known. In 1922, not in Adrian’s presence, but in mine, they were 
sung in the Tonhalle in Zurich, under the direction of the excel- 
lent Dr. Volkmar Andreae. The part in “Die lustigen Musikanten ” 
of the boy who “early broke his leg” was sung by a boy unfor- 
tunately really crippled, using a crutch, little Jacob Nagli. He had 
a voice pure as a bell, that went straight to the heart. 

In passing, the pretty original edition of Clemens Brentano’s 
poems which Adrian used in his work had been a present from 
me; I brought the little volume for him from Naumburg to Leip- 
zig. Of course the thirteen songs were quite his own choice, I had 
no smallest influence upon that. But I may say that almost song 
for song they followed my own wish and expectations. — I do 
not mean they were my personal choice, nor will the reader find 
them so. For what had I, really, what had my culture and ethics 
to do with these words and visions of a romantic poet, these 
dreams of a child-world and folk-world which yet are for ever 
floating off, not to say degenerating, into the supernatural and 
spectral? I can only answer that it was the music of the words 
themselves which led me to make the gift — music which lies in 
these verses, so lightly slumbering that the slightest touch of the 
gifted hand was enough to awake it. 


When Leverkuhn left Leipzig, in September 1910, at a time when 
I had already begun to teach in the gymnasium at Kaisersaschem, 
he first went home to Buchel to attend his sister’s wedding, which 
took place at that time and to which I and my parents were in- 
vited. Ursula, now twenty years old, was marrying the optician 
Johannes Schneidewein of Langensalza, an excellent man whose 
acquaintance she had made while visiting a friend in the charm- 
ing little Salza town near Erfurt. Schneidewein, ten or twelve 
years older than his bride, was a Swiss by birth, of Bernese peas- 
ant stock. His trade, lens-grinding, he had learned at home, but he 
had somehow drifted into Germany and there opened a shop with 
eye-glasses and optical goods of all sorts, which he conducted 
with success. He had very good looks and had kept his Swiss 
manner of speech, pleasant to the ear, deliberate, formal, inter- 
spersed with survivals of old-German expressions ciddly solemn 
to hear. Ursel Leverkuhn had already begun to take them on. She 
too, though no beauty, was an attractive creature, resembling her 
father in looks, in manner more like her mother, brown-eyed, 
slim, and naturally friendly. The two made a pair on whom the 
eye rested with approval. In the years between 1911 and 1923 
they had four children bom to them: Rosa, Ezekiel, Raimund, 
and Nepomuk, pretty creatures all of them, and Nepomuk, the 
youngest, was an angel. But of that later, only quite at the end of 
my story. 

The wedding party was not large: the Oberweiler clergyman, 
the schoolmaster, the justice of the peace, with their wives; from 
Kaisersaschem besides us Zeitbloms only Uncle Nikolaus, rela- 
tives of Frau Leverkuhn from Apolda, a married pair, friend of 
the Leverkuhns, with their daughter, from Weissenfels, brother 
George, the farmer, and the dairy manageress Frau Luder-that 
was all. Wendell Kretschmar sent a telegram with good wishes 
from Liibeck, which arrived during the midday meal at the 
house in Buchel. It was not an evening party. It had assembled 
betimes in the morning; after the ceremony in the village church 


1 86 

we gathered round a capital meal in the dining-room of the 
bride’s home, bright with copper cooking-vessels. Soon after- 
wards the newly wedded pair drove off with old Thomas to the 
station at Weissenfels, to begin the journey to Dresden; the wed- 
ding guests still sat awhile over Frau Luder’s good fruit liqueurs. 

Adrian and I took a walk that afternoon to the Cow Trough 
and up Mount Zion. We needed to talk over the text of Love's 
Labour’s Lost , which I had undertaken and about which we had 
already had much discussion and correspondence. I had been able 
to send him from Athens and Syracuse the scenario and parts of 
the German versification, in which I based myself on Tieck and 
Hertzberg and occasionally, when condensation was necessary, 
added something of my own in as adequate a style as possible. 
I was determined at least to put before him a German version 
of the libretto, although he still stuck to his project of composing 
the opera in English. 

He was visibly glad to get away from the wedding party and 
out of doors. The cloud over his eyes showed that he was suffer- 
ing from headache. It had been odd, in church and at the table, 
to see the same sign in his father too. That this nervous complaint 
set in precisely on festal occasions, under the influence of emo- 
tion and excitement, is understandable. It was so with the elder 
man. In the son’s case the psychical ground was rather that he had 
taken part only of necessity and with reluctance in this sacrificial 
feast of a maidenhead, in which, moreover, his own sister was 
concerned. At least he clothed his discomfort in words which 
recognized the simplicity, good taste, and informality of our af- 
fair, the absence of “customs and curtsyings” as he put it. He 
applauded the fact that it had all taken place in broad daylight, 
the wedding sermon had been short and simple, and at table there 
had been no offensive speeches — or rather, to avoid offence, no 
speeches at all. If the veil, the white shroud of virginity, the satin 
grave-shoes had been left out as well, it would have been still 
better. He spoke particularly of the favourable impression that 
Ursel’s betrothed, now her husband, had made upon him. 

“Good eyes,” he said. “Good stock, a sound, clean, honest man. 
He could court her, look at her to desire her, covet her as a 
Christian wife, as we theologians say with justified pride at swin- 
dling the Devil out of the carnal concomitant and making a sacra- 
ment of it, the sacrament of Christian marriage Very droll, really, 
this taming the natural and sinful into the sacrosanct just by put- 
ting in the word Christian — by which it is not fundamentally al- 



tered. But one has to admit that the domestication of sex, which 
is evil by nature, into Christian marriage was a clever makeshift.” 

“I do not like,” I replied, “to have you make over the natural 
to evil. Humanism, old and new, considers that an aspersion on the 
sources of life.” 

“My dear chap, there is not much there to asperse.” 

“One ends,” I said undeterred, “by denying the works of God; 
one becomes the advocate of nothing. Who believes in the Devil, 
already belongs to him.” 

He gave his short laugh. 

“You never understand a joke. I spoke as a theologian and so 
necessarily like a theologian.” 

“Never mind,” I said, laughing as well. ‘‘You usually take your 
jokes more seriously than your seriousness.” We earned on this 
conversation on the community bench under the maple trees on 
Mount Zion, in the sunshine of the autumn afternoon. The fact 
was that at that time I myself was going courting, though the 
wedding and even the public engagement had to wait on my be- 
ing confirmed in my position. I wanted to tell him about Helene 
and of my proposed step, but his remarks did not precisely en- 
courage me. 

“And they twain shall be one flesh,” he began again: “Is it not 
a curious blessing 5 Pastor Schroder, thank God, spared himself 
the quotation. In the presence of the bridal pair it is rather painful 
to hear. But it is only too well meant, and precisely what I mean 
by domestication. Obviously the element of sin, of sensuality, of 
evil lust altogether, is conjured away out of marriage — for lust 
is certainly only in flesh of two different kinds, not in one, and 
that they are to be one flesh is accordingly soothing but nonsensi- 
cal. On the other hand, one cannot wonder enough that one flesh 
has lust for another; it is a phenomenon — well, yes, the entirely 
exceptional phenomenon of love. Of course, love and sensuality 
are not to be separated. One best absolves love from the reproach 
of sensuality by identifying the love element in sensuality itself. 
The lust after strange flesh means a conquest of previously exist- 
ing resistances, based on the strangeness of I and You, your own 
and the other person’s. The flesh — to keep the Christian ter- 
minology— is normally inoffensive to itself only. With another’s 
it will have nothing to do. Now, if all at once the strange flesh 
become the object of desire and lust, then the relation of the I 
and the You is altered in a way for which sensuality is only an 
empty word. No, one cannot get along without the concept of 



love, even when ostensibly there is nothing spiritual in play. 
Every sensual act means tenderness, it is a give and take of desire, 
happiness through making happy, a manifestation of love. ‘One 
flesh’ have lovers never been; and the prescription would drive 
love along with lust out of marriage.” 

I was peculiarly upset and bewildered by his words and took 
care not to look at him, though I was tempted. I wrote down 
above how I always felt when he spoke of the things of the flesh. 
But he had never come out of himself like this, and it seemed to 
me that there was something explicit and u n li k e him about the 
way he spoke, a kind of tactlessness too, against himself and also 
against his auditor. It disturbed me, together with the idea that 
he said it when his eyes were heavy with headache. Yet with the 
sense of it I was entirely in sympathy. 

“Well roared, lion!” I said, as lightly as possible. “That is what 
I call standing up to it! No, you have nothing to do with the 
Devil. You do know that you have spoken much more as a hu- 
manist than as a theologian?” 

“Let us say a psychologist,” he responded. “A neutral position. 
But they are, I think, the most truth-loving people.” 

“And how would it be,” I proposed, “if we just once spoke 
quite simply, personally and like ordinary citizens? I wanted to 
tell you that I am about to — ” 

I told him what I was about to do, told him about Helene, how 
I had met her and we had got to know each other. If, I said, it 
would make his congratulations any warmer, he might be assured 
that I dispensed him beforehand from any “customs and curtsy- 
ings” at my wedding feast. 

He was greatly enlivened. 

“Wonderful! ” he cried. “My dearest fellow — wilt marry thy- 
self! What a goodly idea! Such things always take one by sur- 
prise, though there is nothing surprising about them. Accept my 
blessing' ‘But, if thou marry, hang me by the neck, if horns that 
year miscarry!’ ” 

“ ‘Come, come, you talk greasily,’ ” I quoted out of the same 
scene. “If you knew the girl and the spirit of our bond, then you 
would know that there is no need to fear for my peace of mind, 
but that on the contrary everything is directed towards the 
foundation of love and tranquillity, a fixed and undisturbed hap- 

“I do not doubt it,” said he, “and doubt not of its success.” 

A moment he seemed tempted to press my hand, but desisted. 
There came a pause in the talk, then as we walked home it turned 



to our all-important topic, the opera, and the scene in the fourth 
act, with the text of which we had been joking, and which was 
among those I definitely wanted to leave out. Its verbal skirmish 
was really offensive, and dramatically it was not indispensable. In 
any case there had to be cuts. A comedy should not last four hours 
— that was and remains the principal objection to the Meister- 
smger. But Adrian seemed to have planned to use precisely the 
“old sayings” of Rosaline and Boyet, the “Thou canst not hit it, 
hit it, hit it,” and so on for the contrapuntal passages of his over- 
ture, and altogether haggled over every episode, although he had 
to laugh when I said that he reminded me of Kretschmar’s Beis- 
sel and his naive zeal to set half the world to music. Anyhow he 
denied being embarrassed by the comparison. He still retained 
some of the half-humorous respect he had felt when he first heard 
about the wonderful novice and lawgiver of music. Absurdly 
enough, he had never quite ceased to think of him, and lately had 
thought of him oftener than ever. 

“Remember,” he said, “how I once defended his childish tyr- 
anny with the ‘master’ and ‘servant’ notes against your reproach 
of silly rationalism. What instinctively pleased me was itself some- 
thing instinctive, in naive agreement with the spirit of music: the 
wish, which showed itself in a comic way, to write something in 
the nature of the ‘strict style.’ On another, less childish plane we 
would need people like him, just as his flock had need of him 
then: we need a system-master, a teacher of the objective and or- 
ganization, with enough genius to unite the old-established, the 
archaic, with the revolutionary. One ought to — ” 

He had to laugh. 

“I’m talking like Schildknapp. One ought to. What all ought 
one not to?” 

“What you say,” I threw in, “about the archaic-revolutionary 
schoolmaster has something very German about it.” 

“I take it,” he responded, “that you use the word not as a com- 
pliment, but in a descriptive and critical way, as you should. 
However, it could mean something necessary to the time, some- 
thing promising a remedy in an age of destroyed conventions and 
the relaxing of all objective obligations— in short, of a freedom 
that begins to lie like a mildew upon talent and to betray traces of 

I started at the word. Hard to say why, but in his mouth, alto- 
gether in connection with him, there was something dismaying 
about it, something wherein anxiety mixed in an odd way with 
reverence. It came from the fact that in his neighbourhood steril- 



ity, threatened paralysis, arrest of productivity could be thought 
of only as something positive and proud, only in connection with 
pure and lofty intellectuality. 

“It would be tragic,” I said, “if unfruitfulness should ever be 
the result of freedom. But there is always the hope of the release 
of the productive powers, for the sake of which freedom is 

“True,” he responded. “And she does for a while achieve what 
she promised. But freedom is of course another word for subjec- 
tivity, and some fine day she does not hold out any longer, some 
time or other she despairs of the possibility of being creative out 
of herself and seeks shelter and security in the objective. Free- 
dom always inclines to dialectic reversals. She realizes herself very 
soon in constraint, fulfils herself in the subordination to law, rule, 
coercion, system — but to fulfil herself therein does not mean she 
therefore ceases to be freedom.” 

“In your opinion,” I laughed: “So far as she knows. But actu- 
ally she is no longer freedom, as little as dictatorship bom out of 
revolution is still freedom.” 

“Are you sure of it?” he asked. “But anyhow that is talking 
politics. In art, at least, the subjective and the objective intertwine 
to the point of being indistinguishable, one proceeds from the 
other and takes the character of the other, the subjective precipi- 
tates as objective and by genius is again awaked to spontaneity, 
‘dynamized,’ as we say; it speaks all at once the language of the 
subjective. The musical conventions today destroyed were not 
always so objective, so objectively imposed. They were crystal- 
lizations of living experiences and as such long performed an office 
of vital importance: the task of organization. Organization is 
everything. Without it there is nothing, least of all art And It was 
aesthetic subjectivity that took on the task, it undertook to organ- 
ize*the work out of itself, in freedom.” 

“You are thinking of Beethoven.” 

“Of him and of the technical principle through which a domi- 
nating subjectivity got hold of the musical organization; I mean 
the development, or working out. The development itself had 
been a small part of the sonata, a modest republic of subjective 
illumination and dynamic. With Beethoven it becomes universal, 
becomes the centre of the whole form, which, even where it is 
supposed to remain conventional, is absorbed by the subjective 
and is newly created in freedom. The form of variations, some- 
thing archaic, a residuum, becomes a means by which to infuse 
new life into form. The principle of development plus variation 

dr. faustus 19 1 

technique extends over the whole sonata. It does that in Brahms, 
as themarir. working-out, even more radically. Take him as an ex- 
ample of how subjectivity turns into objectivity. In him music ab- 
stains from all conventional flourishes, formulas, and residua and so 
to speak creates the unity of the work anew at every moment, out 
of freedom. But precisely on that account freedom becomes the 
principle of an all-round economy that leaves in music nothing 
casualf and develops the utmost^ diversity while adhering to the 
identical material. Where there is nothing unthematic left, noth- 
ing which could not show itself to derive from the same basic 
material, there one can no longer speak of a ‘free style.’ ” 

“And not of the ‘strict style’ in the old sense, either'” 

“Old or new, I will tell you what I understand by ‘strict style.’ 

I mean the complete integration of all musical dimensions, their 
neutrality towards each other due to complete organization.” 

“Do you see a way to do that?” 

“Do you know,” he countered, “when I came nearest to the 

‘strict style’?” , , - 

I waited. He spoke so low as to be hard to hear, and between 

his teeth, as he used to when he had headache. 

“Once in the Brentano cycle,” he said, “in ‘O lieb MadeV That 
song is entirely derived from a fundamental figure, a series of in- 
terchangeable intervals, the five notes B, E, A, E, E-flat, and the 
horizontal melody and the vertical harmony are determined and 
controlled by it, in so far as that is possible with a basic motif of 
so few notes. It is like a word, a key word, stamped on every- 
thing in the song, which it would like to determine entirely. But 
it is too short a word and in itself not flexible enough. The tonal 
space it affords is too limited. One would have to go on from 
here and make larger words out of the twelve letters, as it were, 
of the tempered semitone alphabet. Words of twelve letters, cer- 
tain combinations and interrelations of the twelve semitones, senes 
of notes from which a piece and all the movements of a work 
must strictly derive. Every note of the whole composition, both 
melody and harmony, would have to show its relation to this fixed 
fundamental series. Not one might recur until the other notes 
have sounded. Not one might appear which did not fulfil its func- 
tion in the whole structure. There would no longer be a free note. 
That is what I would call ‘strict composition.’ ” 

“A striking thought,” said I. “Rational organization through 
and through, one might indeed call it. You would gain an extraor- 
dinary unity and congruity, a sort of astronomical regularity and 
legality would be obtained thereby. But when I picture it to my- 



self, it seems to me that the unchanged recurrence of such a suc- 
cession of intervals, even when used in different parts of the tex- 
ture, and in rhythmic variations, would result m a probably 
unavoidable serious musical impoverishment and stagnation.” 

“Probably,” he answered, with a smile which showed that he 
had been prepared for this reservation. It was the smile that 
brought out strongly his likeness to his mother, but with the fa- 
miliar look of strain which it would show under pressure of the 

“And it is not so simple either. One must incorporate into the 
system all possible techniques of variation, including those decned 
as artificial, that is, the means which once helped the ‘develop- 
ment’ to win its hold over the sonata. I ask myself why I prac- 
tised so long under Kretschmar the devices of the old counter- 
point and covered so much paper with inversion fugues, crabs, 
and inversions of crabs. Well now, all that should come in handy 
for the ingenious modification of the twelve-note word. In addi- 
tion to being a fundamental series it could find application, in this 
way, that every one of its intervals is replaced by its inversion. 
Again, one could begin the figure with its last note and finish it 
on its first, and then invert this figure as well. So then you have 
four modes, each of which can be transposed to all the twelve 
notes of the chromatic scale, so that forty-eight different versions 
of the basic series may be used in a composition and whatever 
other variational diversions may present themselves. A composi- 
tion can also use two or more series as basic material, as in the 
double and triple fugue. The decisive factor is that every note, 
without exception, has significance and function according to 
its place in the basic series or its derivatives. That would guaran- 
tee what I call the indifference to harmony and melody.” 

“A magic square,” I said. “But do you hope to have people hear 
all that 5 ” 

“Hear?” he countered. “Do you remember a certain lecture 
given for the Society for the Common Weal from which it fol- 
lowed that in music one certainly need not hear everything? If by 
‘hearing’ you understand the precise realization in detail of the 
means by which the highest and strictest order is achieved, like 
the order of the planets, a cosmic order and legality — no, that 
way one would not hear it. But this order one will or would hear, 
and the perception of it would afford an unknown testhetic satis- 

. “Very remarkable,” said I. “The way you describe the thing, it 
comes to a sort of composing before composition. The whole dis- 



position and organization of the material would have to be ready 
when the actual work should begin, and all one asks is: which is 
the actual work? For this preparation of the material is done by 
variation, and the creative element m variation, which one might 
call the actual composition, would be transferred back to the ma- 
terial itself — together with the freedom of the composer. When 
he went to work, he would no longer be free.” 

“Bound by a self-imposed compulsion to order, hence free.” 

“Well, of course the dialectic of freedom is unfathomable. But 
he could scarcely be called a free inventor of his harmony. Would 
not the making of chords be left to chance and accident?” 

“Say, rather, to the context. The polyphonic dignity of every 
chord-forming note would be guaranteed by the constellation. 
The historical events — the emancipation of dissonance from its 
resolution, its becoming ‘absolute’ as it appears already m some 
passages of the later Wagner — would warrant any combination 
of notes which can justify itself before the system.” 

“And if the constellation produced the banal: consonance, 
common-chord harmonics, the worn-out, the diminished sev- 

“That would be a rejuvenation of the worn-out by the con- 

“I see there a restorative element in your Utopia. It is very 
radical, but it relaxes the prohibition which after all already hung 
over consonance. The return to the ancient forms of variation is 
a similar sign.” 

“More interesting phenomena,” he responded, “probably always 
have this double face of past and future, probably are always pro- 
gressive and regressive in one. They display the equivocalness of 
life itself.” 

“Is that not a generalization?” 

“Of what?” 

“Of our domestic experiences as a nation?” 

“Oh, let us not be indiscreet! Or flatter ourselves either. All I 
want to say is that our objections — if they are meant as objec- 
tions — would not count against the fulfilment of the old, the ever 
repeated demand to take hold and make order, and to resolve the 
magic essence of music into human reason.” 

“You want to put me on my honour as a humanist,” said I. “Hu- 
man reason! And besides, excuse me; ‘constellation’ is your every 
other word. But surely it belongs more to astrology. The ration- 
alism you call for has a good deal of superstition about it — of be- 
lief in the incomprehensibly and vaguely daemonic, the kind of 




thing we have m games of chance, fortune-telling with cards, and 
shaking dice. Contrary to what you say, your system seems to me 
more calculated to dissolve human reason in magic.” 

He carried his closed hand to his brow. 

“Reason and magic,” said he, “may meet and become one m 
that which one calls wisdom, initiation, in belief in the stars, m 
numbers. . . .” 

I did not go on, as I saw that he was in pain. And all that he 
had said seemed to me to bear the mark of suffering, to stand in 
its sign, however intellectually remarkable it may have been. He 
himself seemed not to care for more conversation, his idle hum- 
ming and sighing betrayed the fact as we sauntered on. I felt, of 
course, vexed and inwardly shook my head, silently reflecting as 
I walked that a man’s thoughts might be characterized by say- 
ing that he had a headache; but that did not make them less 

We spoke little on the rest of the way home. I recall that we 
paused by the Cow Trough, took a few steps away from the path 
and looked into it, with the reflection of the setting sun in our 
faces. The water was clear: one could see that the bottom was flat 
only near the edge; it fell off rapidly into darkness. The pond 
was known to be very deep in the middle. 

“Cold,” said Adrian, motioning with his head; “much too cold 
to bathe. — Cold,” he repeated a moment later, this time with a 
definite shiver, and turned away. 

My duties obliged me to go back that evening to Kaisersaschern, 
He himself delayed a few days longer his departure for Munich, 
where he had decided to settle. I see him pressing his father’s 
hand in farewell — for the last time; he knew it not. I see his 
mother kiss him and, perhaps in the same way as she had done 
that time with Kretschmar in the living-room, lean his head on 
her shoulder. He was not to return to her, he never did. She came 
to him. 


“He that would eat the kernel must crack the nut,” he wrote to 
me, copying Kumpf, from the Bavarian capital a few weeks later. 
He meant that he had begun the composition of Love’s Labour’s 
Lost, and he urged me to send the rest of the text. He needed, he 
said, to be able to see it as a whole, and he wanted, for the sake of 
providing musical links and connections, to anticipate the setting 
of some later parts of the libretto. 

He lived in the Rambergstrasse, near the Academy, as a lodger 
with the widow of a Senator from Bremen, named Rodde, who 
with her two daughters occupied a ground-floor flat in a still new 
house. The room they gave him, fronting the quiet street, to the 
right of the entrance door, appealed to him on account of its 
cleanliness and impersonally comfortable furnishings. He had 
soon fully made it his own with more intimate belongings, books 
and notes. There was indeed one rather pointless decoration, relic 
of some past enthusiasm, framed in nutwood, on the left-hand 
wall: Giacomo Meyerbeer at the piano, with inspired gaze attack- 
ing the keys, surrounded by the hovering forms of characters 
from his operas. However, the apotheosis did not too much dis- 
please the young maestro, and when he sat in the basket-chair at 
his work-table, a simple green-covered extension-table, he had his 
back to it. So he let it stay. 

A little harmonium, which might remind him of early days, 
stood in his room and was of use to him. But as the Frau Senator 
kept mostly to the garden side of the house, in the rear, and the 
daughters were invisible in the mornings, the grand piano in the 
salon, a rather old but soft-toned Bechstein, was also at his serv- 
ice. This salon was furnished with upholstered fauteuils, bronze 
candelabra, little gilt “occasional chairs,” a sofa-table with a bro- 
cade cover, and a richly framed, very much darkened oil painting 
of 1850, representing the Golden Horn with a view of Galata. All 
these things were easily recognized as the remnant of a once well- 
to-do bourgeois household. The salon was not seldom the scene of 
small social affairs, into which Adrian let himself be drawn, at 



first resisting, then as a habit, and finally, as circumstances brought 
it about, rather like a son of the house. It was the artist or half- 
artist world that gathered there, a house-broke Bohemia, so to 
speak- well-bred yet free-and-easy, and amusing enough to fulfil 
the expectations that had caused the Frau Senator to move from 
Bremen to the southern capital. Frau Senator Rodde’s background 
was easy to imagine Her bearing and looks were ladylike: she had 
dark eyes, neatly waved hair only a little grey, an ivory complex- 
ion, and pleasant, rather well-preserved features. Her long life had 
been spent as an honoured member of a patrician society, presid- 
ing over a household full of servants and responsibilities. After 
the death of her husband (whose solemn likeness, m the garb of 
office, also adorned the salon) her circumstances were greatly re- 
duced, so that she was probably not able to maintain her position 
in her accustomed milieu. At the same time there were now re- 
leased in her certain still keen desires of an unexhaustible and 
probably never satisfied love of life, in some humanly warmer 
sphere. She entertained, she explained, in the interest of her daugh- 
ters, but yet largely, as was pretty clear, to enjoy herself and hold 
court. One amused her best with mild little salacities, not going 
too far, jokes about barmaids, models, artists, to which she re- 
sponded with a high, affected, suggestive laugh from between her 
closed lips. 

Obviously her daughters, Inez and Clarissa, did not care for 
this laugh; they exchanged cold and disapproving looks, which 
showed all the irritation of grown children at the unsatisfied hu- 
manity in their mother’s nature. In the case of the younger, Cla- 
rissa, the uprooting out of her hereditary middle class had been 
conscious, deliberate, and pronounced. She was a tall blonde, with 
large features whitened by cosmetics, a full lower lip and under- 
developed chin; she was preparing for a dramatic career and stud- 
ied with an elderly actor who played father parts at the Hof- 
theater. She wore her golden-yellow hair in bold and striking 
style, under hats like cart-wheels, and she loved eccentric feather* 
boas. Her imposing figure could stand these things very well and 
absorb their extravagance into her personality. Her tendency to 
the macabre and bizarre made her interesting to the masculine 
world which paid her homage. She had a sulphur-coloured tom- 
cat named Isaac, whom she put in mourning for the deceased 
Pope by tying a black satin bow on his tail. The death’s-head 
motif appeared repeatedly in her room; there was actually a pre- 
pared skeleton, in all his toothiness; and a bronze paperweight that 
bore the hollow-eyed symbol of mortality and “healing” lying on 



a folio bearing the name of Hippocrates. The book was hollow, 
the smooth bottom of it being screwed in with four tiny screws, 
which could be unscrewed with a fine instrument. Later, after 
Clarissa had taken her life with the poison from this box, Frau 
Senator Rodde gave me the object as a memento and I have it 

A tragic deed was also the destiny of the elder sister, Inez. She 
represented — or shall I say: yet she represented? — the conserva- 
tive element in the little family; being a living protest against its 
transplantation, against everything South German, the art-metrop- 
olis, Bohemia, her mother’s evening parties. She turned her face 
obstinately back to the old, paternal, middle-class strictness and 
dignity. Still one got the impression that this conservatism was a 
defence mechanism against certain tensions and dangers in her 
own nature, though intellectually she ascribed some importance 
to these as well. She was more delicate in figure than Clarissa, 
with whom she got on very well, whereas she distinctly though 
unobtrusively turned away from her mother. Heavy ash-blond 
hair weighed down her head, so that she held it thrust out side- 
wise, with extended neck. Her mouth wore a pinched smile, her 
nose was rather beaked; the expression of her blue eyes, blurred 
by the drooping lids, was weakly, dull, suspicious, it was a look of 
knowledge and suffering, if not without some effort at roguish- 
ness. Her upbringing had been no more than highly correct she 
had spent two years in an aristocratic girls’ boarding-school in 
Karlsruhe, patronized by the coiirt. She occupied herself with no 
art or science, but laid stress on acting as daughter of the house. 
She read much, wrote extraordinarily literary letters “back home” 
— to the past, her boarding-house mistress and earlier friends. Se- 
cretly she wrote verse. Her sister showed me one day a poem by 
her, called “The Miner.” I still remember the first stanza: 

A miner I who in the dark shaft mines 
Of the soul, descending fearless from the light 
To where the golden ore of anguish shines 
With fugitive priceless glimmer through the night. 

I have forgotten the rest, except the last line: 

And never more upwards to joy I yearn. 

So much for the present about the daughters, with whom 
Adrian came into relations as housemates. They both looked up 
to him and influenced their mother to follow suit, although she 



found him not very “artistic.” As for the guests of the house, some 
of them, including Adrian, or, as the hostess said, “our lodger, 
Herr Dr. Leverkuhn,” a larger or smaller group, might be invited 
to supper in the Rodde dining-room, which was furnished with 
an oak sideboard much too monumental and richly carved for the 
room. Others came in at nine o’clock or later, for music, tea and 
talk. There were Clarissa’s male and female colleagues, one or the 
other ardent young man who rolled his r’s, and girls with voices 
placed well forwards; a couple named Knotench — the man, Kon- 
rad Knoterich, a native of Munich, looked like a primitive Ger- 
man, Sugambian or Ubian, he only lacked the bushy tuft on top. 
He had some vaguely artistic occupation, had probably been a 
painter, but now dabbled at making instruments, and played cello, 
wildly and inaccurately, snorting violently as he played. His wife, 
Natalia, also had something to do with painting; she was an exotic 
brunette with a trace of Spanish blood, wearing earrings and 
black ringlets dangling on her cheeks. Then there was a scholar, 
Dr. Kranich, a numismatic expert, and Keeper of the Cabinet 
of Coins: clear, decided, cheerful and sensible in conversation, 
though with a hoarse asthmatic voice. There -Were two friends, 
both painters belonging to the Secession group, Leo Zink and 
Baptist Spengler; one an Austrian from near Bozen, a jester by so- 
cial technique, an insinuating clown, who in a gentle drawl cease- 
lessly made fun of himself and his exaggeratedly long nose. He 
was a faunish type, making the women laugh with the really very 
droll expression of his close-set eyes — always a good opening. 
The other, Spengler, from central Germany, with a flourishing 
blond moustache, was a sceptical man of the world, with some 
means, no great worker, hypochondriac, well-read, always smil- 
ing and blinking rapidly as he talked. Inez Rodde mistrusted him 
very much — why, she did not say, but to Adrian she called him 
disingenuous, a sneak. Adrian said that he found Spengler intel- 
ligent and agreeable to talk to. He responded much less to the ad- 
vances of another guest, who really took pains to woo Adrian’s 
reserve and shyness. This was Rudolf Schwerdtfeger, a gifted 
young violinist, member of the Zapfenstosser Orchestra, which 
next to the Hoftheater orchestra played a prominent role in the 
musical life of the town and in which he was one of the first vio- 
lins. Bom in Dresden, but in origin low-German, of medium 
height and neat build, and with a shock of flaxen hair, he had the 
polish, the pleasing versatility of rhe Saxon, and was in equal 
measure good-natured and desirous to please. He loved society 
and spent all his free time in at least one but oftener two or three 



evening parties, blissfully absorbed in flirtation with the other sex, 
young girls as well as more mature women. Leo Zink and he were 
on a cool, sometimes even ticklish footing; I have often noticed 
that charmers do not appreciate each other, a fact equally applica- 
ble to masculine and to feminine conquistadores. For my part I 
had nothing against Schwerdtfeger, I even liked him sincerely, 
and his early, tragic death, which had for me its own private and 
peculiar horror, shook me to my depths. How clearly I still see 
the figure of tlus young man: his boyish way of shrugging up 
one shoulder inside his coat and drawing down one comer of his 
mouth m a grimace. It was further his naive habit to watch some- 
one talking, very tense, as it were in a fury of concentration, his 
lips curled, his steel-blue eyes burrowing into the speaker’s face, 
seeming to fix now on one eye and now on the other. What good 
qualities too did he not have quite aside from his talent, which one 
might almost reckon as one of his charms' Frankness, decency, 
open-mindedness, an artistic integrity, indifference to money and 
possessions — in short, a certain cleanness; all these looked out of 
his — I repeat it — beautiful steel-blue eyes and shone m a face 
full of youthful attractiveness if just slightly like a pug dog’s. He 
often played with the Frau Senator, who w T as no indifferent pi- 
anist— and thus somewhat encroached upon Knoterich, who 
wanted to sweep his cello, whereas the company were looking 
forward to hearing Rudolf. His playing was neat and cultivated, 
his tone not large, but of beautiful sweetness and technically not 
a little brilliant. Seldom has one heard certain things of Vivaldi, 
Vieuxtemps and Spohr, the C-minor Sonata of Grieg, even the 
Kreutzer Sonata, and compositions by Cesar Franck, more fault- 
lessly played. With all this he was simple, untouched by letters, 
but concerned for the good opinion of prominent men of intel- 
lect — not only out of vanity, but because he seriously set store 
by intercourse with them and wanted to elevate and round him- 
self out by its means. He at once had his eye on Adrian, paid court 
to him, practically neglecting the ladies; consulted his judgment, 
asked to be accompanied — Adrian at that time always refused — 
showed himself eager for musical and extra-musical conversation, 
and was put off by no reserve or rebuff. That may have been a 
sign of uncommon ingenuousness; but it displayed unselfcon- 
scious understanding and native culture as well. Once when 
Adrian, on account of a headache and utter distaste for society, 
had excused himself to the Frau Senator and remained in his room, 
Schwerdtfeger suddenly appeared, in his cut-away and black tie, 
to persuade him, ostensibly on behalf of several or all of the 



guests, to join them. They were so dull without him. ... It was 
even embarrassing, on the whole, for Adrian was by no means a 
lively social asset. I do not know if he let himself be persuaded. 
Probably it was m order to win him over that Schwerdtfeger said 
he was voicing the wish of the company, yet my friend must 
have felt a certain pleasant surprise at such invincible attentiveness. 

I have now rather fully introduced the personae of the Rodde 
salon, mere figures at present, whose acquaintance, together with 
other members of Munich society I later made as a professor from 
Freismg. Rudiger Schildknapp joined the group quite soon; Adri- 
an’s example having instructed him that one should live m Mu- 
nich instead of Leipzig, he pulled himself together to act upon 
the conviction. The publisher of his translations from English 
classics had his offices in Munich, a fact of practical importance 
for Rudiger, besides that he had probably missed Adrian, whom 
he at once began to delight with his stories about his father and 
his “ Besichtigen Sie jenes!” He had taken a room m the third 
storey of a house in Amalienstrasse, not far from his friend; and 
there he now sat at his table, by nature quite exceptionally m 
need of fresh air, the whole winter through with wide-open win- 
dows, wrapped in mantle and plaid, vaporizing cigarettes and 
wrestling, half full of hatred, half passionately absorbed in his 
problems, and striving after the exact German value for English 
words, phrases, and rhythms. At midday he ate with, Adrian, m 
the Hoftheater restaurant or in one of the Keller in the centre of 
the city; but very soon, through Leipzig connections, he had 
, entree to private houses, and managed aside from evening invita- 
tions to have here and there a cover laid for him at the midday 
meal, perhaps after he had gone shopping with the housewife and 
intrigued her by a display of his lordly poverty. Such invitations 
came from his publisher, proprietor of the firm of Radbruch & 
Co. in the Fiirstenstrasse; and from the Schlaginhaufens, an elderly 
well-to-do and childless pair, the husband of Suabian origin and 
a private scholar, the wife from a Munich family. They had a 
somewhat gloomy but splendid house in the Briennerstrasse, where 
their pillared salon was the meeting-place of a society of mingled 
aristocratic and artistic elements. Nothing better pleased the 
housewife, a von Plausig by birth, than to have both elements rep- 
resented in the same person, as in the Generalintendant of the 
Royal Theatres, His Excellency von Riedesel, who was often a 
guest. Schildknapp also dined with the industrialist Bulknger, a 
rich paper-manufacturer, who occupied the bel huge in the block 
of flats built by himself in Wiedemayerstrasse on the river; with 



the family of a director of the Pschorrbrau joint-stock company; 
and in other houses. 

At the Schlagmhaufens’ Rudiger had also introduced Adrian, 
who then, a monosyllabic stranger, met the titled stars of the 
artist world, the Wagner heroine Tanya Orlanda, Felix Mottl, 
ladies from the Bavarian court, the “descendant of Schiller,” Herr 
von Gleichen-Russwurm, who wrote books on cultural history; 
also other writers who wrote nothing at all but made themselves 
socially interesting as specialists in the art of conversation, super- 
ficially and without tangible results. However, it was here that 
Adrian made the acquaintance of Jeanette Scheurl, a woman of 
peculiar charm and sincerity, a good’ ten years older than he, 
daughter of a deceased Bavarian government official. Her mother 
was a Parisian, a paralysed old lady, confined to her chair but full 
of mental energy, who had never given herself the trouble of 
learning German. She had no need to, since French was by good 
fortune generally the mode and hers so to speak ran on wheels, 
gaining her both living and position. Mme Scheurl lived near the 
Botanical Gardens with her three daughters, of whom Jeanette 
was the eldest; their quarters were small, the atmosphere entirely 
Parisian. In her little salon she gave extraordinarily popular musi- 
cal teas, where the exemplary organs of the court singers male 
and female filled the little rooms to bursting, and the blue coaches 
from the court often stood in front of the house. 

Jeanette was a writer of novels. Grown up between two lan- 
guages, she wrote ladylike and original studies of society in a 
charmingly incorrect idiom peculiar to herself alone. They did 
not lack psychological or melodic charm and were definitely a lit- 
erary achievement. She noticed Adrian at once, and took to him; 
he, in his turn, felt at home in her presence and conversation. She 
was aristocratically ugly and good form, with a face like a sheep, 
where the high-born and the low-born met, just as in her speech 
her French was mingled with Bavarian dialect. She was extraordi- 
narily intelligent and at the same time enveloped in the naively 
inquiring innocence of the spinster no longer young. Her mind 
had something fluttering and quaintly confused about it, at which 
she herself laughed more heartily than anyone else— though by 
no means in the fashion of Leo Zink, who laughed at himself as a 
parlour trick, whereas she did the Same out of sheer lightness of 
heart and sense of fun. She was very musical, a pianist, a Chopin 
enthusiast, a writer on Schubert; on friendly terms with more 
than one bearer of a great name in the contemporary world of 
music. Her first conversation with Adrian had been a gratifying 




exchange upon the subject of Mozart’s polyphony and his rela- 
tion to Bach. He was and remained her attached friend for many 

But no one will suppose that the city he had chosen to live in 
really took him to her bosom or ever made him her own. The 
beauty of the grandiose village under the melting blue of the Al- 
pine sky, with the mountain stream rushing and rippling through 
it- that might please his eye; the self-indulgent comfort of its 
ways, the suggestion it had of all-the-year-round carnival free- 
dom, might make even his life easier. But its spirit — venict 
veibo! — its atmosphere, a little mad and quite harmless; the dec- 
orative appeal to the senses, the holiday and artistic mood of this 
self-satisned Capua all that was of course foreign to the soul of 
a deep, stem nature like his. It was indeed the fitting and proper 
target for that look of his I had so long observed: veiled and cold 
and musingly remote, followed by the smile and averted face. 

The Afunich I speak of is the Munich of the late Regency, with 
only four years between it and the war, whose issue was to turn 
its pleasantness to morbidness and produce in it one sad and gro- 
tesque manifestation after another; this capital city of beautiful 
vistas, w r here political problems confined themselves to a capri- 
cious opposition between a half-separatist folk-Cathoiicism and 
the lively liberalism professed by the supporters of the Reich; 
Munich, with its parade concerts in the Feldherrenhalle, its art 
shops, its palaces of decorative crafts, its recurring exhibitions, its 
Bauern-b&Ms in carnival time, its seasonal c% MaizbraiC 5 carouses 
and week-long monster fair on the “Oktoberwiese,” where a stout 
and lusty folkishness, now long since corrupted by modern mass 
methods, celebrated its saturnalia; Munich, with its residuary 
Wagnerism, its esoteric coteries performing their aesthetic devo- 
tions behind the Siegestor; its Bohemia, well bedded down in pub- 
lic approval and fundamentally easy-going. Adrian looked on at 
all that, moved in it, tasted of it, during the nine months that he 
spent at this time in Oberbayern — an autumn, a winter, and a 
spring. At the artist festivals that he attended with Schildknapp in 
the illusory twilight of artistically decorated ballrooms he met 
members of the Rodde circle, the young actors, the Knoterichs, 
Dr* Kranich, Zink and Spengler, the daughters of the house. He 
sat at a table with Inez and Clarissa, Rudiger, Spengler, and Kra- 
nich, perhaps Jeanette Scheurl. And Schwerdtfeger, m peasant 
dress or in the Florentine quattrocento which set off his hand- 
some legs and made him look like Botticelli’s youth in the red 
cap, would come up, dissolved in festival mirth, all intellectual 



elevation quite forgot, and in order to be “nice” invite the Rodde 
girls to dance. “Nice” was his favourite word; he insisted on hav- 
ing everything happen “nicely” and on leaving out all that was 
not “nice.” He had many obligations and pending flirtations in 
the room, but it would not have seemed “nice” to him to neglect . 
entirely the ladies of the Rambergstrasse, with whom he was on 
a brotherly footing. This conroulsion to be “nice” was so visible 
in his business-like approach that Clarissa said pertly: 

“Good heavens, Rudolf, if you didn’t put on the air of a knight 
rescuing a damsel in distress! I assure you we have danced enough, 
we do not need you at all.” 

“Need!’’ he replied, with pretended anger, in his rather guttural 
voice. “And the needs of my heart are not to count at all?” 

“Not a brass farthing,” said she. “Anyhow, I am too big for 

But she would go off with him even so, proudly tilting her in- 
sufficient chin, with no hollow under the full lip. Or it was Inez 
he had asked, who with pinched lips and drooping head followed 
him to the dance. But he was “nice” not alone to the sisters. He 
kept guard over his forgetfulness. Suddenly, especially if some- 
one had declined to dance, he might became serious and sit down 
at the table with Adrian and Baptist Spengler. The latter was al- 
ways in a domino, and drinking red wine. Blinking, a dimple in 
his cheek above the thick moustaches, he would be citing the 
Goncourt diaries or the letters of Abb6 Galiani, and Schwerdt- 
feger, positively furious with attention, would sit and bore his 
gaze into the speaker’s face. Or he would talk with Adrian about 
the program of the next Zapfenstosser concert; or demand, as 
though there were no more pressing interest or obligations any- 
where, that Adrian explain and enlarge upon something that he 
had lately said at the Roddes’ about music, about the state of the 
opera, or the like. He would devote himself to Adrian, take his 
arm and stroll with him at the edge of the crowd, round the hall, 
addressing him with the carnival du, heedless that the other did 
not respond. Jeanette Scheurl told me later that when Adrian 
once returned to the table after such a stroll, Inez Rodde said 
to him: 

“You shouldn’t give him the pleasure. He wants everything.” 

“Perhaps Herr Leverkiihn wants everything too,” remarked 
Clarissa, supporting her chin on her hand. 

Adrian shrugged his shoulders. 

“What he wants,” he responded, “is that I should write a violin 
concerto for him with which he can be heard in the provinces.” 



“Don’t do it,” Clarissa said again. “You wouldn’t think of any- 
thing but prettmesses if you considered him while you were 
doing it.” 

“You have too high an opinion of my flexibility,” he retorted, 
• and had Baptist Spengler’s bleating laugh on his side. 

But enough of Adrian’s participation m the Munich joy of life. 
Trips into the environs, justly celebrated if somewhat spoiled by 
mass resort, he had made with Schildknapp, mostly on the latter’s 
initiative. Even in the glittering winter they spent days in Ettal, 
Oberammergau, Mittenwald; and when spring came, these excur- 
sions increased, to the famous lakes and the theatrical castles built 
by the nation’s madman. Often they went on bicycles (for Adrian 
loved them as a means of independent travel) at random into the 
greening country, lodging at night humbly or pretentiously, just 
as it fell out. I am reminded of the fact because it was thus that 
Adrian made acquaintance with the place that he later chose as 
the permanent setting of his life: Pfeiffering near Waldshut and 
the Schweigestill farm. 

The little town of Waldshut, devoid of interest or charm, lies 
■on the Garmisch-Partenkirchen line, an hour from Munich. The 
next station, only ten minutes farther on, is Pfeiffering or Pfeffer- 
ing, where the through trains do not stop. They leave to one side 
the onion-shaped dome of Pfeiffering church, rising out of a land- 
scape which at this point is in no way remarkable. Adrian and 
Rudiger visited the place by mere chance. They did not even 
spend the night at Schweigestill’s, for both had to work next 
morning and must take the train back from Waldshut to Munich. 
They had eaten their midday meal in the little square at Walds- 
hut, and as the time-table left them some hours to spare, they 
rode along the tree-lined highway to Pfeiffering, pushed their 
bicycles through the village, inquired of a child the name of the 
near-by pond, and heard that it was called the Klammer; cast a 
glance at the tree-crowned height, the Rohmbuhel, and asked for 
a glass of lemonade from a barefoot girl under the gate of the 
manor-house, which was adorned with ecclesiastical arms. They 
asked less from thirst than because the massive and characteristic 
peasant baroque structure attracted their attention. The yard dog 
on his chain bayed loudly, and the girl shouted at him: “Kasch- 
perl, hush your noise!” 

I do not know how far Adrian took notice at that time; or 
whether it was only afterwards, gradually and from memory, that 
he recognized certain correspondences, transposed, as it were, into 
another but not far removed key. I incline to the belief that the 



discovery at first remained unconscious and only later, perhaps as 
in a dream, came to him as a surprise. At least he did not utter a 
syllable to Schildknapp, nor did he ever mention to me the singu- 
lar correspondence. Of course I may be mistaken. Pond and hill, 
the gigantic old tree m the courtyard — an elm, as a matter of 
fact — with its round green bench, and still other details might 
have attracted him at his first glance; it may be no dream was 
needed to open his eyes. That he said nothing is of course no 
proof at all. 

It was Frau Else Schweigestill who advanced towards the 
travellers with dignified tread, met them at the gate, gave a 
friendly ear to their wants, and made lemonade in tall glasses with 
long spoons. She served it in the best room, left of the entry, a 
sort of peasant hall, with a vaulted ceiling, a huge table, window 
embrasures which showed the thickness of the walls, and the 
Winged Victory of Samothrace in plaster above the tall, gaily 
painted press. There was a dark brown piano as well. The room 
was not used by the family, Frau Schweigestill explained as she 
sat down with her guests. They sat of evenings in a smaller room 
diagonally opposite, near the house door. The building had much 
extra space; farther along on this side was another sightly room, 
the so-called Abbot’s chamber, probably thus named because it 
had served as a study to the head of the Augustine Order of 
monks, who had once presided over the place. So it had formerly 
been a cloister; but for three generations Schweigestills had been 
settled here. 

Adrian mentioned that he himself was country-bred, though he 
had lived now for some time in towns. He inquired how much 
land there was and learned that there was about forty acres of 
ploughed land and meadow, with a wood-lot as well. The low 
building with the chestnut trees on the vacant space opposite the 
courtyard also belonged to the property. Once it had been occu- 
pied by lay brothers, now it was nearly always empty and 
scarcely furnished enough to live in. Summer before last a Mu- 
nich painter and his wife had rented it; he wanted to make land- 
scapes of the neighbourhood, the Waldshut moors and so on, and 
had done some pretty views, though rather gloomy, beirig painted 
in a dull light. Three of them had been hung in the Glaspalast, she 
had seen them there herself, and Herr Director Stiglmayer of the 
Bavarian Exchange Bank had bought one. The gentlemen were 
painters themselves? , 

She very likely mentioned the tenants in order to raise the sub- 
ject and find out with whom she had to deal. When she heard 



that no, they were a writer and a musician, she lifted her brows 
respectfully and said that was more unusual and interesting. 
Painters were thick as blackberries. The gentlemen had seemed 
serious people to her, whereas painters were mostly a loose lot, 
without much feeling for the serious things of life — she did not 
mean the practical side, earning money and that, no, when she 
said serious she meant the dark side of life, its hardships and trou- 
bles, but she did not mean to be unfair to artists: her lodgers, for 
instance, had been an exception to that kind of light-headed gen- 
try, he being a quiet, reserved sort of man, rather low-spirited if 
anything — and his pictures had looked like that too, the atmos- 
phere of the moors, and the lonely woods and meadows, yes, it 
was perhaps surprising that Director Stiglmayer should have 
bought one, the gloomiest of all, of course he was a financial man, 
but maybe he had a streak of melancholy himself. 

She sat with them, bolt upright, her brown hair, only touched 
with grey, drawn smoothly away from the parting, so that you 
saw the white skin, in her checked apron, an oval brooch at the 
opening of her frock, her well-shaped, capable little hands with 
the plain wedding ring folded together on the table. 

She liked artists, she said. Her language, seasoned with dialect, 
with halt and fei and getter? s ja> was yet not coarse. Artists were 
people of understanding, she thought, and understanding was the 
best and most important thing m life, the way artists were so 
lively depended on that, she would say, at bottom, there was a 
lively and a serious kind of understanding, and it had never come 
out yet which one was better, maybe the best of all was still 
another one, a quiet kind of understandingness, anyhow artists, 
of course, had to live in the towns, because that was where the 
culture was, that they spent their time on, but actually they be- 
longed more with peasant folk, who lived in the middle of nature 
and so nearer to understanding, much more than with towns- 
people, because these had had their understanding stunted, or else 
they had smothered it up for the sake of being regular and that 
came to the same thing, but she did not want to be unfair to the 
townsfolk either, there were always exceptions, maybe one didn’t 
always know, and Director Stiglmayer, just to mention him again, 
when he bought the gloomy painting had shown he was a man of 
understanding, and not only artistic either. 

Hereupon she offered her guests coffee and pound-cake; but 
Schildknapp and Adrian preferred to spend what time they had 
left looking at the house and grounds, if she would be so good as 
to show them. 



“Willingly,” said she, “only too bad my Maxi” (that was Herr 
Schweigestill) “is out on the farm with Gereon, that’s our son, 
they wanted to try a new manure-spreader Gereon bought, so 
the gentlemen will have to make do with me.” 

They would not call that making-do, they answered, and went 
with her through the massively built old house. They looked at 
the house-place in front, where the prevailing odour of pipe to- 
bacco was strongest, farther back was the Abbot’s room, very 
pleasing, not very large, and rather earlier in style than the ex- 
tenor architecture of the house, nearer 1600 than 1700, wains- 
coted, with carpetless wooden floor and stamped-leather hang- 
ings below the beamed ceiling. There were pictures of saints on 
the walls of the flat-arched window embrasures, and leaded inn- 
dowpanes that had squares of painted glass let into them. There 
was a niche in the wall, with a copper water-kettle and basin, and 
a cupboard with wrought-iron bolts and locks. There was a 
comer bench with leather cushions, and a heavy oak table not far 
from the window, built like a chest, with deep drawers under the 
polished top and a sunken middle part where a carved reading- 
desk stood. Above it there hung down from the. beamed ceiling 
a huge chandelier with the remains of wax candles still sucking 
in it, a piece of Renaissance decoration with horns, shovel- 
antlers, and other fantastic shapes sticking out irregularly on all 

The visitors praised the Abbot’s room warmly. Schildknapp, 
with a reflective head-shake, even thought that one ought to set- 
tle down and live here; but Frau Schweigestill had her doubts 
whether it would not be too lonely for a writer, too far from life 
and culture. And she led her guests up the stairs to the upper 
storey, to show them a few of the numerous bedrooms, in a row 
on a whitewashed, musty corridor. They were furnished with 
bedsteads and chests in the style of the painted one below, and 
only a few were supplied with the towering feather beds in peas- 
ant style. “What a lot of rooms!” they exclaimed. Yes, they were 
mostly empty, replied the hostess. One or two might be occupied 
temporarily. For two years, until last autumn, a Baroness von 
Handschuchsheim had lived here and wandered about through 
the house: a lady of rank, whose ideas, as Frau Schweigesull ex- 
pressed it, had not been able to fit in with those of the rest of the 
world so that she had sought refuge here from the conflict. She, 
Frau Else Schweigestill, had got on very well with her and liked 
to talk with her; had sometimes even succeeded in making her 
laugh at her own outlandish notions. But unfortunately it had 



been impossible either to do away with these or to prevent them 
from gaining ground; in the end the dear Baroness had had to be 
placed m professional care. 

Frau Schweigestill came to the end of this tale as they went 
back down the stair again and out into the courtyard to have a 
glimpse of the stables. Another time, she said, before that, one of 
the many sleeping-rooms had been occupied by a Fraulein from 
the best social circles who had here brought her child into the 
world — talking with artists she could call things, though not peo- 
ple, by their right names — the girl’s father was a judge of the 
high court, up in Bayreuth, and had got himself an electric 
automobile and that had been the beginning of all the trouble, for 
he had hired a chauffeur too, to drive him to his office, and this 
young man, not a bit out of the common run, only very smart in 
his braided livery, had made the girl lose her head altogether, she 
had got with child by him, and when that was plain to see there 
had been outbreaks of rage and despair, hand-wringing and hair- 
tearing, cursing, wailing, berating on the part of the parents, such 
as one would not have dreamt possible, of understanding there 
had been none, either of an artistic or a natural kind, nothing but 
a crazy fear for their social reputation, like people in towns have, 
and the girl had regularly writhed on the floor before her parents, 
beseeching and sobbing while they shook their fists, and in the 
end mother and daughter fainted at the very same minute, but the 
high judge found his way here one day and talked with her, Frau 
Schweigestill, a little man with a pointed grey beard and gold eye- 
glasses, quite bowed with affliction and they had made up that the 
girl be brought to bed here secretly, and afterwards, under the 
pretext of anaemia, should stop on for a while. And when the high 
official had turned to go, he had turned round again and with 
tears behind his gold glasses had pressed her hand again with the 
words: “Thank you, thank you, for your understanding and good- 
ness,” but he meant understanding for the bowed-down parents, 
not for the girl. 

She came, then, a poor thing, with her mouth always open and 
her eyebrows up, and while she awaited her hour she confided a 
good deal in Frau Schweigestill. She was entirely reasonable about 
her own guilt and did not pretend that she had been seduced — 
on the contrary, Carl, the chauffeur, had even said* “It’s no good, 
Fraulein, better not,” but it had been stronger than she was, and 
she had always been ready to pay with death, and would do, and 
being ready for death, so it seemed to her, made up for the whole 


thing, and she had been very brave when her time came, and her 
child, a girl, was brought into the world with the help of good 
Dr. Kiirbis, the district physician, to whom it was all one how 
a child came, if everything was otherwise in order and no trans- 
verse positions, but the girl had remained very weak, despite good 
nursing and the country air, she had never stopped holding her 
mouth open and her eyebrows up, and her cheeks seemed hol- 
lower than ever and after a while her little high-up father came to 
fetch her away and at the sight of her, tears came in his eyes be- 
hind the gold eye-glasses. The infant was sent to the Grey Sisters 
in Bamberg, but the mother was from then on only a very grey 
sister herself, with a canary-bird and a tortoise which her parents 
gave her out of pity, and she had just withered away in her room 
in a consumption, which the seeds of had probably always been 
in her. Finally they sent her to Davos, but that seemed to have 
been the finishing touch, for she died there almost at once, just 
as she had wished and wanted it, and if she had been right in her 
idea that everything had been evened up by the readiness for 
death, then she was quits and had got what she was after. 

They visited the stables, looked at the horses and the pigsties 
while their hostess was talking about the girl she had sheltered. 
They went to look at the chickens and the bees behind the house, 
and then the guests asked what they owed her and were told 
nothing at all. They thanked her for everything and rode back 
to Waldshut to take their train. That the day had not been wasted 
and that Pfeiffering was a remarkable spot, to that they both 
heartily agreed. 

Adrian kept the picture in his mind; but for a long time it did 
not determine his decisions. He wanted to go away, but farther 
^way than an hour’s journey towards the mountains. Of the music 
of Love’s Labour’s Lost he had written the piano sketch of the 
expository scenes; but then he had got stuck, the parodistic arti- 
ficiality of the style was hard to keep up, needing as it did a sup- 
ply of whimsicality constantly fresh and sustained. He felt a de- 
sire for more distant air, for surroundings of greater unfamiliarity. 
Unrest possessed him. He was tired of the family pension in Ram- 
bergstrasse; its privacy had been an uncertain quantity, people 
could always intrude on it. “I am looking,” he wrote to me, “I 
keep asking round about and hankering for news of a place bur- 
ied from and untroubled by the world, where I could hold speech 
alone, with my life, my destiny. . . .” Strange, ominous words! 
Must not my hand tremble, must I not feel cold in the pit of my 



stomach, at thought of the meeting, the holding speech, the com- 
pact for which he, consciously or unconsciously, sought a theatre^ 
It was Italy on which he decided; whither he, at an unusual 
time for a tourist, the beginning of June and the summer, set off. 
He had persuaded Rudiger Schildknapp to go with him. 


In the long vacation of 1912 and still from Kaisersaschern, I, with 
my young bride, visited Adrian and Schildknapp in the nest they 
had found in the Sabine Hills. It was the second summer the 
friends had spent there. They had wintered in Rome, and m May, 
as the heat strengthened, they had again sought the mountains and 
the same hospitable house where, in a sojourn lasting three 
months, they had learned to feel at home the year before. 

The place was Palestrina, birthplace of the composer; ancient 
Prseneste, and as Penestrino citadel of the Colonna princes, men- 
tioned by Dante in the twenty-seventh canto of the Inferno: a 
picturesque hillside settlement, reached from the church, below 
by a lane of shallow steps, overhung by houses and not even of 
the cleanest. A sort of little black pig ran about on the steps, and 
one of the pack-mules that passed up and down with its project- 
ing load might push the unwary pedestrian to the wall. The 
street continued on above the village as a mountain road, past a 
Capuchin friary, up to the top of the hill and the acropolis, only 
surviving in a few ruins and the remnant of an ancient theatre. 
Helene and I climbed up several times to these dignified relics 
during our visit, whereas Adrian, who “did not want to see any- 
thing,” had never in all those months got further than the shady 
garden of the Capuchin convent, his favourite spot. 

The Manardi house, where Adrian and Rudiger lodged, was 
probably the most imposing in the place, and although the family 
were six in number, they easily took us in as well. It was on the 
lane, a sober, solid edifice, almost like a palazzo or castello, which 
I judged to be from about the second third of the seventeenth 
century, with spare decorative mouldings under the flat, slightly 
profiled tiled roof; it had small windows and a door decorated 
in early baroque style, but boarded up, with the actual door- 
opening cut into the boarding and furnished with a tinkling little 
bell. Extensive quarters had been vacated for our friends on the 
ground floor, consisting chiefly of a two-windowed living-room 



as large as a salon, with stone floors like all the rest of the house. 
It was shaded, cool, a little dark, and very simply furnished, with 
wicker chairs and horsehair sofas, and m fact so large that two 
people could carry on their work there separated by considerable 
space, neither disturbing the other. Adjoining were the roomy 
bedchambers, also very sparsely furnished, a third one being 
opened for us. 

The family dining-room and the much larger kitchen, m which 
friends from the village were entertained, lay in the upper storey. 
The kitchen had a vast and gloomy chimney, hung with fabulous 
ladles and carving-knives and -forks which might have belonged 
to an ogre; while the shelves were full of copper utensils, skillets, 
bowls, platters, tureens, and mortars. Here Signora Manardi 
reigned, called Nella by her family — I believe her name was 
Peronella. She was a stately Roman matron, with arched upper 
lip, not very dark, the good eyes and hair were only chestnut 
brown, with at most a faint silver network on the smooth head. 
Her figure was full and well-proportioned, the impression she 
made both capable and rustically simple, as one saw her small 
work-hardened hands, the double widow’s ring on the right one, 
poised on the firm strong hips, bound by their stiff apron-strings. 

She had but one daughter from her marriage, Amelia, a girl of 
thirteen or fourteen years, inclined to weak-headedness. Amelia 
had a habit, at table, of moving spoons or forks to and fro m 
front of her eyes and repeating with a questioning intonation 
some word that had stuck in her mind. A little time previously an 
aristocratic Russian family had lodged with the Manardis, whose 
head, a count or prince, had been a seer of ghosts and from time 
to time had given the family unquiet nights, by shooting at wan- 
dering spirits who visited him in his chamber. All this naturally 
enough made an impression on Amelia, it was the reason why she 
often and insistently questioned her spoons: “Spiriti, spinti?” But 
she could remember lesser matters as well; for instance it had 
happened that a German tourist had once made the mistake of 
saying: “La melona,” the word being feminine in German though 
masculine in Italian; and now the child would sit wagging her 
head, following with her forlorn look the movement of her 
spoons and murmuring “La melona , la melona?' Signora Peronella 
and her brothers paid no heed or did not hear; such things were 
an everyday matter to them and only if the guest seemed put off 
would they smile at him, less in excuse than almost tenderly, as 
though the child had done something winning. 

Helene and I soon got used to Amelia’s uncanny murmurs; as 



for Adrian and Schildknapp, they were no longer conscious of 

The housewife’s brothers, of whom I spoke, were two, one 
older and one younger than herself Ercolano Manardi, lawyer, 
mostly called for short, yet with some satisfaction too, 
he being the pride of the otherwise unlettered and rustic family, 
a man of sixty with bristling grey moustaches and a hoarse, com- 
plaining voice, which began with an effort like a donkey’s bray; 
and Sor Alfonso, the younger, perhaps in the middle of his 
forties, intimately addressed by his family as Alfo, a farmer. 
Often, returning from our afternoon walk in the campagna, we 
saw him coming home from his fields on his little long-ears, his 
feet almost on the ground, under a sunshade, with blue glasses on 
his nose. The lawyer apparently no longer practised his profes- 
sion, he only read the newspaper, read it indeed all the time; on 
hot days he permitted himself to do it sitting in his room in his 
drawers, with the door open. He drew down upon himself the 
disapproval of Sor Alfo, who found that the man of law — “quest’ 
uomo ” he called him in this connection — took too much upon 
himself. Loudly, behind his brother’s back he censured this pro- 
vocative licence and would not be talked round by his sister’s 
soothing words, to the effect that the advocate was a full-blooded 
man, in danger of a heat stroke, which made light clothing a 
necessity to him. Then “quest’uomo” should at least keep the 
door shut, retorted Alfo, instead of exposing himself in so neglige 
a state to the eyes of his family and the distinti forestien. A 
higher education did not justify such offensive slackness. It was 
clear that a certain animosity was being expressed by the conta- 
dino against the educated member of the family, under a well- 
chosen pretext indeed — although, or even because, Sor Alfo in 
the depths of his heart shared the family admiration for the 
lawyer, whom they considered the next thing to a statesman. But 
the politics of the brothers were in many matters far asunder, 
for the advocate was of a conservative and devout cast, Alfonso 
on the other hand a free-thinker, libero pensatore, and a critical 
mind, hostile to Church, monarchy, and government, which he 
painted as permeated with scandalous corruption. “A capito, che 
sacco di birbaccione” (did you understand what a pack of rascals 
they are?), he would close his indictment, much more articulately 
than the advocate, who after a few gasping protests would retire 
behind his newspaper. 

A connection of the three, brother of Signora Nella’s deceased 
husband, Dario Manardi, a mild, grey-bearded rustic, walking 



with a stick, lived with his simple, ailing wife in the family- 
house. They did their own housekeeping while Signora Peronella 
provided for us seven from her romantic kitchen — the brothers, 
Amelia, the two permanent guests, and the visiting pair — with 
an amplitude that bore no relation to the modest pension price. 
She was inexhaustible. For when we had already enjoyed a power- 
ful mmestra, larks and polenta, scallopini in Marsala, a joint of 
mutton or boar with compote, thereto much salad, cheese and 
fruit, and our friends had lighted their government-monopoly 
cigarettes to smoke with the black coffee, she might say as one 
suggesting a captivating idea: “Signori, a little fish, perhaps^ 1 ” A 
purple country wine which the advocate drank like water, in 
great gulps, croaking the while — a growth too fiery really to be 
recommended as a table beverage twice daily, yet on the other 
hand a pity to water it — served to quench our thirst. The pa- 
drona encouraged us with the words: “Drink, drink! Fa sangue il 
vino.” But Alfonso upbraided her, saying it was a superstition. 

The afternoons were spent in beautiful walks, during which 
there were many hearty laughs at Rudiger Schildknapp’s Anglo- 
Saxon jokes, down to the valley by roads lined with mulberry 
bushes and out a stretch into the well-cultivated country with its 
olive trees and vine garlands, its tilled fields divided into small 
holdings separated by stone walls with almost monumental en- 
trance gates. Shall I express how much — aside from the being 
with Adrian again — I enjoyed the classic sky, where during the 
weeks of our stay not one single cloud appeared; the antique 
mood that lay over the land and now and then expressed itself 
visibly, as for instance' in the rim of a well, a picturesque shep- 
herd, a goat’s head suggestive of Pan? A smiling, slightly ironic 
nod was Adrian’s only response to the raptures of my humanistic 
soul. Artists pay little heed to their surroundings so long as these 
bear no direct relation to their own field of work; they see in 
them no more than in indifferent frame, either more or less fa- 
vourable to production. We looked towards the sunset as we re- 
turned to the little town, and another such splendour of the 
evening sky I have not seen. A golden layer, thick and rich like 
oil, bordered with crimson, was on the western horizon, the sight 
was utterly extraordinary and so beautiful that it might well ex- 
hilarate and expand the soul. So I confess I felt slightly put off 
when Schildknapp, gesturing towards the marvellous spectacle, 
shouted his “ Besichtigen Sie jenes!” and Adrian burst out into the 
grateful laughter which Rudiger humour always drew from him. 
For it seemed to me he seized the occasion to laugh at Helene’s 


and my emotion and even at the glory of nature’s magnificence 
as well. 

I have already mentioned the garden of the cloister above the 
town, to which our friends climbed every morning with their 
portfolios to work apart. They had asked permission of the monks 
to sit there and it had been benignly granted. We often accompa- 
nied them into the spice-scented shade of the not too well-tended 
plot surrounded by crumbling walls, where we would leave them 
to their devices and invisible to them both, who were themselves 
invisible to each other, isolated by bushes of oleander, laurel, 
and broom, spend the increasingly hot afternoon, Helene with 
her crochet-work, I with a book, but dwelling in my thoughts 
on the pleasurable excitement of the knowledge that Adrian was 
working on his opera close by. 

On the badly out-of-tune square piano in the friends’ living- 
room he played to us once during our stay — unfortunately only 
once — from the completed sections, mostly already scored for 
a specially chosen orchestra, of the “pleasant well-conceited 
comedy Love's Labour's Lost'' as the piece was called m 1 598. 
He played characteristic passages and a few complete scene se- 
quences: the first act, including the scene outside Armado’s house, 
and several later numbers which he had partly anticipated: in 
particular Biron’s monologues, which he had had especially m 
mind from the first, the one in verse at the end of the third act, 
as well as the prose one in the fourth: “They have pitched a toil, 
I am toiling in a pitch — pitch that defiles”; which, while always 
preserving the atmosphere of the comic and grotesque, expresses 
musically still better than the first the deep and genuine despair 
of the young man over his surrender to the suspect black beauty, 
his raging abandonment of self-mockery: “By the Lord, this love 
is as mad as Ajax; it kills sheep, it kills me, I a sheep”: this partly 
because the swift-moving, unjointed, ejaculatory prose, with its 
many plays on words, inspired the composer to invent musical 
accents of quite peculiar fantasticality; partly, also, because in 
music the repetition of the significant and already familiar, the 
suggestive or subtle invention, always makes the strongest and 
most speaking impression. And in the second monologue elements 
of the first are thus delightfully recalled to the mind. This was 
true above all for the embittered self-castigation of the heart be- 
cause of its infatuation with the “whitely wanton with a velvet 
brow, with two pitch-balls stuck in her face for eyes,” and again 
quite particularly for the musical picture of these beloved ac- 
cursed eyes: a melisma darkly flashing out of the sound of com- 



bined cellos and flutes, half lyrically passionate and half burlesque, 
which in the prose, at the place “O, but her eye — by this light, 
but for her eye, I would not love her,” recurs in a wildly carica- 
tured way, where the darkness of the eyes is intensified by the 
pitch, but the lightning flash of them is this time given to the pic- 

There can be no doubt that the strangely insistent and even 
unnecessary, dramatically little justified characterization of Rosa- 
line as a faithless, wanton, dangerous piece of female flesh — a 
description given to her only in Biron’s speeches, whereas in the 
actual setting of the comedy she is no more than pert and witty 
— there can be no doubt that this characterization springs from a 
compulsion, heedless of artistic mdiscrepancies, on the poet’s part, 
an urge to bring in his own experiences and, whether it fits or not, 
to take poetic revenge for them. Rosaline, as the lover never tires 
of portraying her, is the dark lady of the second sonnet sequence, 
Elizabeth’s maid of honour, Shakespeare’s love, who betrayed 
him with the lovely youth. And the “part of my rhyme and here 
my melancholy” with which Biron appears on the stage for the 
prose monologue (“Well, she hath one o’ my sonnets already”) 
is one of those which Shakespeare addressed to this black and 
whitely beauty. And how does Rosaline come to apply to the 
sharp-tongued, merry Biron of the play such wisdom as: 

The blood of youth burns not with such excess 

As gravity’s revolt to wantonness? 

For he is young and not at all grave, and by no means the person 
who could give occasion to such a comment as that it is lamenta- 
ble when wise men turn fools and apply all their wit to give folly 
the appearance of worth. In the mouth of Rosaline and her 
friends Biron falls quite out of his role; he is no longer Biron, but 
Shakespeare m his unhappy affair with the dark lady; and Adrian, 
who had the sonnets, that profoundly extraordinary trio of poet, 
friend, and beloved, always by him in an English pocket edition, 
had been from the beginning at pains to assimilate the character 
of his Biron to this particular and favourite dialogue and to give 
him a music which, in suitable proportion to the burlesquing style 
of the whole, makes him “grave” and intellectually considerable, 
a genuine sacrifice to a shameful passion. 

That was beautiful, and I praised it highly. And how much 
reason there was besides for praise and joyful amaze in what he 
played to us! One could say in earnest what the learned hair-split- 
ter Holofemes says of himself: “This is a gift that I have, simple. 



simple: a foolish extravagant spirit, full of forms, figures, shapes, 
objects, ideas, apprehensions, motions, revolutions: these are 
begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia 
mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.” Wonder- 
ful' In a quite incidental, a ludicrous setting the poet there gives 
an incomparably full description of the artist essence, and in- 
voluntarily one referred it to the mind that was here at work to 
transfer Shakespeare’s satirical youthful work into the sphere of 

Shall I completely pass over the little hurt feeling, the sense of 
being slighted, which I felt on the score of the subject itself, the 
mockery of classical studies, which in the play appear as ascetic 
preciosity? Of the caricature of humanism not Adrian but Shake- 
speare was guilty, and from Shakespeare too come the ideas 
wrenched out of their order in which the conceptions “culture” 
and “barbarism” play such a singular role. That is intellectual 
monkishness, a learned overrefinement deeply contemptuous of 
life and nature both, which sees the barbaric precisely in life and 
nature, in directness, humanity, feeling. Biron himself, who puts 
in some good words for nature to the sworn precieux of the 
groves of academe, admits that he has “for barbarism spoke more 
than for that angel knowledge you can say.” The angel knowl- 
edge is indeed made ridiculous, but again only through the ridic- 
ulous; for the “barbarism” into which the group falls back, the 
sonnet-drunk infatuation that is laid upon them as a punishment 
for their disastrous alliance, is caricature too, in brilliant style, 
love-persiflage; and only too well did Adrian’s music see to it 
that in the end feeling came no better off than the arrogant for- 
swearing of it. Music, so I felt, was by its very nature called to 
lead men out of the sphere of absurd artificiality into fresh air, 
into the world of nature and humanity. But it refrained. That 
which the noble Biron calls barbarism, that is to say the sponta- 
neous and natural, celebrates here no triumph. 

As art this music of my friend was admirable indeed. Contemp- 
tuous of a mass display, he had originally wanted to score for the 
classical Beethoven orchestra; and only for the sake of the bombas- 
tic and absurd figure of the Spaniard Armado had he introduced a 
second pair of horns, three trombones, and a bass tuba. But every- 
thing was in strict chamber-music style, a delicate airy filigree, a 
clever parody in notes, ingenious and humoristic, rich in subtle, 
high-spirited ideas. A music-lover who had tired of romantic 
democracy and popular moral harangues and demanded an art for 
art’s sake, an ambitionless — or in the most exclusive sense ambi- 


they spent it playing dominoes over a glass of hot orange punch, 
in a quiet corner of some cafe. 

More extended society than this they had none — or as good as 
none. Their isolation was almost as complete m Rome as m the 
country. The German element they avoided entirely — Schild- 
knapp invariably took to flight so soon as a sound of his mother 
tongue struck on his ear. He was quite capable of getting out of 
an ommbus or train when there were “Germans” in it. But their 
solitary way of life — solitary a deux , it is true — gave little op- 
portunity to make even Italian friends. Twice during the winter 
they were invited by a lady of indefinite origins who patronized 
art and artists, Mme de Coniar, to whom Rudiger Schildknapp 
had a Munich letter of introduction. In her home on the Corso, 
decorated with personally signed photographs in plush and silver 
frames, they met hordes of international artists, theatre people, 
painters, musicians, Polish, Hungarians, French, also Italians; but 
individual persons they soon lost sight of. Sometimes Schildknapp 
separated from Adrian to drink malmsey with young Britishers 
into whose arms his English predilection had driven him, to make 
excursions to Tivoli or the Trappist monastery at Quattro Fon- 
tane, to consume eucalyptus brandy and talk nonsense with them 
as a relief from the consuming difficulties of the ait of translation. 

In short, m town as in the isolation of the country village the 
two led a life remote from the world and mankind, entirely taken 
up by the cares of their work. At least one can so express it. And 
shall I say that the departure from the Manardi house, however 
unwillingly I now as always left Adrian’s side, was accompanied 
with a certain private feeling of relief 5 To utter it is equivalent 
to the obligation of justifying the feeling, and that is hard to do 
without putting myself and others in a somewhat laughable light. 
The truth is: m a certain point, in puncto puncti as young people 
like to say, I formed m the company a somewhat comic excep- 
tion and fell so to speak out of the frame; namely, in my quality 
and way of life as a benedict, which paid tribute to what we half 
excusingly, half glonfyingly called “nature.” Nobody else in the 
castello-house on the terraced lane did so. Our excellent hostess, 
Signora Peronella, had been a widow for years, her daughter 
Amelia was a half-idiot child. The brothers Manardi, lawyer and 
peasant, seemed to be hardened bachelors, yes, one could imagine 
that neither of them had ever laid a finger on a woman. There 
W'as Cousin Dario, grey and mild, with a tiny, ailing little wife, a 
pair whose love could certainly be interpreted only in the caritas 
sense of the word. And finally there were Adrian and Rudiger 



Schildknapp, who spent month after month in this austere and 
peaceful circle that we had learned to know, living not otherwise 
than did the cloistered monks above. Would not that, for me, the 
ordinary man, have something mortifying and depressing about it* 

Of Schildknapp’s particular relation to the wide world of pos- 
sibilities for happiness, and of his tendency to be sparing with 
them, as he was sparing with himself, I have spoken before. I saw 
in it the key to his way of life, it served me as explanation for the 
fact, otherwise hard for me to understand, that he succeeded in it. 
It was otherwise with Adrian, although I felt certain that this 
community of chastity was the basis of their friendship, or if the 
word is too strong, their life together. I suspect that I have not 
succeeded in hiding from the reader a certain jealousy of the 
Silesian’s relations with Adrian, if so, he may also understand that 
it was this life in common, this bond of continence, with which 
after all my jealousy had to do. 

If Schildknapp, let us say, lived as a roue of the potentialities, 
Adrian — I could not doubt it — since that journey to Graz or 
otherwise Pressburg, lived the life of a saint — as indeed he had 
done up to then. But now I trembled at the thought that his 
chastity since then, since that embrace, since his passing contagion 
and the loss of his physicians, sprang no longer from the ethos of 
purity but from the pathos of impurity. 

There had always been in his nature something of noh me tan - 
gere. I knew that; his distaste for the too great physical nearness 
of people, his dislike of “getting in each other’s steam,” his avoid- 
ance of physical contact, were familiar to me. He was in the real 
sense of the word a man of disinclination, avoidance, reserve, 
aloofness. Physical cordialities seemed quite impossible to associ- 
ate with his nature, even his handshake was infrequent and hast- 
ily performed. More plainly than ever this characteristic came out 
during my visit and to me, I cannot say why, it was as though 
the “Touch me not!” the “three paces off,” had to some extent 
altered its meaning, as though it were not so much that an advance 
was discouraged as that an advance from the other side was shrunk 
from and avoided — and this, undoubtedly, was connected with 
his abstention from women. 

Only a friendship as keen-eyed and penetrating as mine could 
feel or divine such a change of significance; and may God keep 
me from letting my pleasure in Adrian’s company be affected 
thereby! What was going on in him could shatter me but never 
sever me from him. There are people with whom it is not easy to 
live; but to leave impossible. 


The document to which repeated reference has been made in 
these pages, Adrian’s secret record, since his demise in my pos- 
session and guarded like a frightful and precious treasure, here it 
is, I offer it herewith. The biographical moment has come. And 
accordingly I myself must cease to speak, since in spirit I have 
turned my back on his deliberately chosen refuge, shared with 
the Silesian, where I had sought him out. In this twenty-fifth 
chapter the reader hears Adnan’s voice direct. 

But is it only his? This is a dialogue which lies before us. 
Another, quite other, quite frightfully other, is the principal 
speaker, and the writer, in his stone-floored living-room, only 
writes down what he heard from that other. A dialogue? Is it 
really a dialogue? I should be mad to believe it. And therefore I 
cannot believe that in the depths of his soul Adrian himself con- 
sidered to be actual that which he saw and heard — either while 
he heard and saw it or afterwards, when he put it on paper; not- 
withstanding the cynicisms with which his interlocutor sought 
to convince him of his objective presence. But if he was not there, 
that visitor — and I Shudder at the admission which lies in the 
very words, seeming even conditionally and as a possibility to en- 
tertain his actuality — then it is horrible to think that those cyni- 
cisms too, those jeerings and jugglings, came out of the afflicted 
one’s own soul. ... 

It goes without saying that I have no idea of turning over Adri- 
an’s manuscript to the printer. With my own hand I will tran- 
scribe it word for word in my text from the music-paper covered 
with his script, which I characterized earlier in these memoirs: his 
small, old-fashioned, florid, very black round-hand, the writing 
of a scribe, a monk, one might say. He used his music notepaper 
obviously because no other was at hand at the moment, or be- 
cause the little shop down in the Piazza St. Agapitus had no 
proper writing-paper. There are always two lines on the upper 
five-line system and two on the bass; the white spaces in between 
are covered throughout with two lines each. 



Not with entire definiteness can the time of writing be made 
out, for the document bears no date. If my conviction is worth 
anything, it was certainly not written after our visit to the moun- 
tain village or during our stay there. Either it comes from earlier 
m the summer, of which we spent three weeks with the friends, 
or it dates from the summer before, the first they spent as guests 
of the Manardis. That at the time we were there the experience 
which is the basis of the manuscript lay already m the past; that 
Adrian at that time had already had the conversatioi! which fol- 
lows, amounts with me to a certainty; so does it that he wrote it 
down at once after the event, presumably the very next day. 

So now I copy it down — and I fear that no distant explosions 
jarring my retreat will be needed to make my hand shake as I 
write and my letters to be ill-formed. 


3{C ^ 

Whist, mum’s the word. And certes I schal be mum, will hold 
my tunge, were it sheerly out of shame, to spare folkes feelings, 
for social considerations forsooth! Am firmly minded to keep fast 
hold on reason and decency, not giving way even up till the end. 
But seen Him I have, at last, at last! He was with me, here in -this 
hall, He sought me out, unexpected, yet long expected. I held 
plenteous parley with Him, and now thereafter I am vexed but 
sith I am not certain whereat I did shake all the whole time: an 
’twere at the cold, or at Him. Did I beguile myself, or He me, that 
it was cold, so I might quake and thereby certify myself that He 
was there. Himself in person 5 For verily no *nan but knows he is a 
fool which quaketh at his proper brain-maggot; for sooner is such 
welcome to him and he yieldeth without or shaking or quaking 
thereunto. Mayhap He did but delude me, making out by the 
brutish cold I was no fool and He no figment, since I a fool did 
quake before Him 5 He is a wily-pie. 

Natheles I will be mum, will hold my tonge and mumchance 
hide all down here on my music-paper, whiles my old jester-fere 
in eremo , far away in the hall, travails and toils to turn the loved 
outlandish into the loathed mother tongue. He weens that I com- 
pose, and were he to see that I write words, would but deem 
Beethoven did so too. 

All the whole day, poor wretch, I had hen in the dark with 
irksome mygrym, retching and spewing, as happeth with the 
severer seizures. But at eventide quite suddenly came unexpected 
betterment. I could keep down the soup the Mother brought me 



(“Poveretto !) , with good cheer drank a glass of rosso (“ Bevt , 
bevi /”) and on a sudden felt so staunch as to allow myself a ciga- 
rette. I could even have gone out, as had been arranged the day 
before. Dario M. wanted to take us down to his club and intro- 
duce us to the better sort of Praenestensians, show us reading- 
room, bilhard-room, and about the place. We had no heart to of- 
fend the good soul, but it came down to Sch. going alone, I being 
forgiven due to my attack. From pranzo he stalked off with a 
sour countenance, down the street at Dario’s side to the farmers 
and philistines, and I stopped by myself. 

I sate alone here, by my lamp, nigh to the windows with shut- 
ters closed, before me the length of the hall, and read Kirkegaard 
on Mozart’s Don Juan. 

Then in a clap I am stricken by a cutting cold, even as though 
I sat m a winter-warm room and a window had blown open to- 
wards the frost. It came not from behind me, where the windows 
lie; it falls on me from in front. I start up from my boke and look 
abroad into the hall, belike Sch. is come back for I am no more 
alone. There is some bodye there in the mirk, sitting on the horse- 
hair sofa that stands almost in the myddes of the room, nigher 
the door, with the table and chairs, where we eat our breakfasts. 
Sitting m the sofa-corner with legs crossed, not Sch., but another, 
smaller than he, in no wise so imposing and not in truth a gentil- 
man at all. But the cold keeps percing me. 

“Chi e costa ?” is what I shout with some catch in my throat, 
propping my hands on the chair-arms, m such w lse that the book 
falls from my knees to the floore. Answers the quiet, slow voice 
of the other, a voice that sounds trained, with pleasing nasal 

“Speak only German! Only good old German without feigned- 
ness or dissimulation. I understand it. It happens to be just pre- 
cisely my favoured language. Whiles I understand only German. 
But fet thee a cloak, a hat and rug. Thou art cold. And quiver 
and quake thou wilt, even though not taking a cold.” 

“Who says thou to me?” I ask, chafing. 

“I,” he says. “I, by your leave. Oh, thou meanest because thou 
sayst to nobody thou, not even to thy jester gentilman, but only 
to the trusty play-fere, he who clepes thee by the first name but 
not thou him. No matter. There is already enough between us 
for us to say thou. Wei, then: wilt fet thyself some warm 

I stare into the half-light, fix him angrily in mine eye. A man: 
rather spindling, not nearly so tall as Sch., smaller even then I. 


2 24 

A sports cap over one ear, on the other side reddish hair standing 
up from the temple; reddish lashes and pink eyes, a cheesy face, 
a drooping nose with wry tip. Over diagonal-striped tricot shirt 
a chequer jacket, sleeves too short, with sausage-fingers coming 
too far out, breeches indecently tight, worn-down yellow shoes. 
An ugly customer, a bully, a stnzzi , a rough. And with an actor’s 
voice and eloquence. 

“Well 5 ” he says again. 

“First and foremost I fain would know,” say I in quaking calm, 
“who is bold enough to force himself in to sit down here 
with me.” 

“First and foremost,” he repeats. “First and foremost is not 
bad at all. But you are oversensitive to any visit you hold to be 
unexpected and undesired. I am no flattering claw-back come to 
fetch you into company, to woo you that you may join the mu- 
sical circle, but to talk over our affairs. Wilt fetch thy things? It 
is ill talking with teeth chattering.” 

I sat a few seconds lenger, not taking my eyes off him. And the 
cutting cold, coming from him, rushes at me, so that I feel bare 
and bald before it in my light suit. So I go. Verily I stand up and 
pass through the next door to the left, where my bedchamber is 
(the other’s being further down on the same side), take my win- 
ter cloke out of the presse that I wear m Rome on tramontana 
days and it had to come along as I wist not where I might leave 
it else; put my hat on too, take my rug and so furnished go back 
to my place. 

There he still sits in his, just as I left him. 

“Ye’re still there,” say I, turning up my coat-collar and wrap- 
ping my plaid about my knees — “even after I’ve gone and come 
back 5 I marvel at it. For I’ve a strong suspicion y’are not there 
at all.” 

“No?” he asks in his trained voice, with nasal resonance. “For 

I: “Because it is nothing likely that a man should seat himself 
here with me of an evening, speaking German and giving out 
cold, with pretence to discuss with me gear whereof I wot nor 
would wot naught. Miche more like is it I am waxing sicke and 
transferring to your form the chills and fever against the which 
I am wrapped, sneaped by frost, and in the beholding of you see 
but the source of it.” 

He (quietly and convincingly laughing, like an actor) : “Tilly- 
vally, what learned gibberidgc you talk! In good playne old Ger- 
man, tis fond and frantick. And so artificial! A clever artifice, an 



’twere stolen from thine own opera! But we make no music here, 
at the moment. Moreover it is pure hypochondria. Don’t imagine 
any infirmities' Have a little pride and don’t lose grip of yourself! 
There’s no sickness breaking out, after the slight attack you are 
m the best of youthful health. But I cry you mercy, I would not 
be tactless, for what is health? Thuswise, my goodly fere, your 
sickness does not break out. You have not a trace of fever and no 
occasion wherefore you should ever have any.” 

I: “Further, because with every third word ye utter you un- 
cover your nothingness. You say nothing save things that are in 
me and come out of me but not out of you. You ape old Kumpf 
with turns of phrase yet look not as though you ever had been 
m academie or higher school or ever sat next to me on the scom- 
er’s bench. You talk of the needy gentilman and of him to whom 
I speak in the singular number, and even of such as have done so 
and reaped but little thank. And of my opera you speak too. 
Whence could you know all that 3 ” 

He (laughs again his practised laugh, shaking his head as at 
some priceless childishness); “Yea, whence? But see, I do know 
it. And you will conclude therefrom to your own discredit that 
you do not see aright? That were truly to set all logick upso- 
down, as one learns at the schools. Twere better to conclude, 
not that I am not here in the flesh, but that I, here in my person, 
am also he for whom you have taken me all the whole time.” 

I: “And for whom do I take you?” 

He (politely reproachful): “Tut, tut! Do not lain it thus, as 
though you had not been long since expecting me! You wit aswel 
as I that our relation demands a dispicion. If I am — and that I 
ween you do now admit — then I can be but One. Or do you 
mean, what I hyght? But you can still recall all the scurrile nick- 
names from the schoole, from your first studies, when you had 
not put the Good Boke out of the door and under the bench. You 
have them all at your fingers’ ends, you may elect one — I have 
scant others, they are well-nigh all nicknames, with the which 
people, so to speke, chuck me under the chin: that comes from 
my good sound German popularity. A man is gratified by popu- 
larity, I trow, even when he has not sought it out and at bottom 
is convinced that it rests on false understanding. It is always flat- 
tering, always does a bodye good. Choose one yourself, if you 
would call me by name, although you commonly do not call peo- 
ple by name at all; for lack of interest you do not know what 
they hight. But choose any one you list among the pet names the 
peasants give me. Only one I cannot and will not abide because it 




is distinctly a malicious slander and fits me not a whit. Whoso- 
ever calls me Diets et non facts is in the wrong box. It too may 
even be a finger chucking my chin, but it is a calumny. I do 
ywisse what I say, keep my promise to a tittle; that is precisely 
my business principle, more or less as the Jews are the most re- 
liable dealers, and when it comes to deceit, well, it is a common 
saying that it was always I, who believe in good faith and right- 
wiseness, who am beguiled.” 

I: “ Diets et non es. Ye would forsoothe sit there against me on 
the sofa and speak outwardly to me in good Kumpfish, in old- 
German snatches? Ye would visit me deliberately here in Italy of 
all places, where you are entirely out of your sphere and not on 
the peasant tongue at all? What an absurd want of style' In Kai- 
sersaschem I could have suffered it. At Wittenberg or on the 
Wartburg, even in Leipzig you would have been credible to me. 
But not here under this pagan and Catholic sky!” 

He (shaking his head and pained clucking with his tongue): 
“Tch, tch, tch! always this same distrust, this same lack of self- 
confidence! If you had the courage to say unto yourself: Where 
I am, there is Kaisersaschem’ — well and good, the thing would be 
in frame, the Herr asstheticus would needs make moan no more 
over lack of style. Cocksblood! You would have the right to speak 
like that, yet you just haven’t the courage or you act as though 
you lacked it. Self-belittlement, my friend — and you underesti- 
mate me too, if you limit me thuswise and try to make a German 
provincial of me. I am m fact German, German to the core, yet 
even so in an older, better way, to wit cosmopolitan from my 
heart. Wouldst deny me away, wouldst refuse to consider the old 
German romantic wander-urge and yearning after the fair land 
of Italy! German I am, but that I should once in good Diireresque 
style freeze and shiver after the sun, that Your Excellency will 
not grant me — not even when quite aside from the sun, I have 
delicate and urgent business here, with a fine, well-created human 
being. . . .” 

Here an unspeakable disgust came over me, so that I shuddered 
violently. But there was no real difference between the grounds 
of my shudder; it might be at one and the same time for cold, too; 
the draught from him had got abruptly stronger, so that it went 
through my overcoat and pierced me to my marrow. Angnly 
I ask: 

“Cannot you away with this nuisance, this icy draught?” 

He: “Alas, no, I regret not to be able to gratify you. But the 


fact is, I am cold. How otherwise could I hold out and find it 
possible to dwell where I dwell?” 

I (involuntarily): “You mean in the brenning pit of fier?” 

He (laughs as though tickled): “Capital! Said in the good ro- 
bust and merry German way. It has indeed many other pretty 
names, scholarly, pathetical, the Herr Doctor ex-Theologus knows 
them all, as career, exitium, confutatio, pemicies, condemnatio, 
and so on. But there is no remedy, the familiar German, the 
comic ones are still my favountes. However, let us for the nonce 
leave that place and the nature of it. I see by your face, you are 
at the point of asking about it; but that is far off, not in the least 
a brenning question — you will forgive me the bourd, that it is not 
brenning! There is time for it, plenteous, boundless time — time 
is the actual thing, the best we give, and our gift the houre-glasse 
— it is so fine, the little neck, through which the red sand runs, a 
threadlike trickle, does not minish at all to the eye in the upper 
cavitie, save at the very end; then it does seem to speed and to 
have gone fast. But that is so far away, the narrow part, it is not 
worth talking or thinking about. Albeit inasmuch as the glass is 
set and the sand has begun to run; for this reason, my good man, 
I would fain come to an understanding with you.” 

I (full scornfully): “Extraordinarily Durerish. You love it. 
First ‘how will I shiver after the sun’; and then the houre-glasse 
of the Melancolia. Is the magic square coming too? I am prepared 
for everything, can get used to everything. Get used to your 
shamelessness, your thee-ing and thou-ing and trusty fere-ing, 
which soothly always go particularly against the wood. After all 
I say ‘thou’ only to myself, which of likelihood explains why you 
do. According to you I am speaking with black Kaspar, which is 
one of the names, and so Kaspar and Samiel are one and the 

He: “Off you go again!” 

I: “Samiel. It giveth a man to laugh. Where then is your 
C-minor fortissimo of stringed tremoli, wood and trombones, in- 
genious bug to fright children, the romantic public, coming out 
of the F-sharp minor of the Glen as you out of your abyss— I 
wonder I hear it not!” 

He: “Let that be. We have many a lovelier instrument and you 
shall hear them. We shall play for you, when you be ripe to hear. 
Everything is a matter of ripeness and of dear time. Just that I 
would speak of with you. But Samiel — that’s a folish form. I am 
all for that is of the folk; but Samiel, too foolish, Johann Ballhom 



from Lubeck corrected it. Sammael it is. And what signifies 

I (defiant, do not answer). 

He: “What, ne’er a word but mum? I like the discreet way- 
in which you leave me to put it in German. It means angel of 

I (between my teeth, which will not stay properly closed): 
“Yes, distinctly, that is what you look like! Just like unto an angel, 
exactly. Do you know how you look? Common is not the word 
for it. Like some shameless scum, a lewd losel, a make-bate, that 
is how you look, how you have found good to visit me — and no 

He (looking down at himself, with his arms stretched out): 
“How then, how then? How do I look? No, it is really good that 
you ask me if I wot how I look, for by my troth I wot not. Or 
wist not, you called it to my attention. Be sure, I reck nothing at 
all to my outward appearance, I leave it so to say to itself. It is 
sheer chance how I look, or rather, it comes out like that, it hap- 
peth like that according to the circumstances, without my taking 
heed. Adaptation, mimicry, you know it, of course. Mummery 
and jugglery of mother Nature, who always has her tongue in her 
cheek. But you won’t, my good fere, refer the adaptation, about 
which I know just as much and as little as the leaf butterfly, to 
yourself, and take it ill of me. You must admit that from the 
other side it has something suitable about it — on that side where 
you got it from, and indeed forewarned, from the side of your 
pretty song with the letter symbol — oh, really ingeniously done, 
and almost as though by inspiration: 

When once thou gavest to me 
At night the cooling draught, 

With poison didst undo me 

Then on the wound the serpent 
Fastened and firmly sucked — 

Really gifted. That is what we recognized betimes and why from 
early on we had an eye on you — we saw that your case was quite 
definitely worth the trouble, that it was a case of the most fa- 
vourable situation, whereof with only a little of our fire lighted 
under it, only a little heating, elation, intoxication, something 
brilliant could be brought out. Did not Bismarck say something 
about the Germans needing half a bottle of champagne to arrive 
at their normal height? Meseems he said something of the sort. 



And that of right. Gifted but halt is the German— gifted enough 
to be angry with his paralysis, and to overcome it by hand-over- 
head illumination., You, my good man, well knew what you 
needed, and took the right road when you made your journey and 
salva venia summoned your French beloved to you.” 

“Hold thy tongue!” 

“Hold thy tongue? We are coming on. We wax warm. At last 
you drop the polite plural number and say ‘thou,’ as it should be 
between people who are in league and contract for time and 

“Will ye hold your tongue still?” 

“Still 5 But we have been still for nigh five years and must after 
all sometime hold parley and advise over the whole and over the 
interesting situation wherein you find yourself. This is naturally 
a thing to keep wry about, but after all not at the length — when 
the houre-glasse is set, the red sand has begun to run through the 
fine-fine neck — ah, but only just begun! It is still almost nothing, 
what lies underneath, by comparison with all there is on top; we 
give time, plenteous time, abundant time by the < ye, the end 
whereof we do not need to consider, not for a long time yet, nor 
need to trouble yet awhile even of the point of time where you 
could begin to take heed to the ending, where it might come to 
‘ Respice finemS Sithence it is a variable point, left to caprice and 
temper, and nobody knows where it should begin, and how nigh 
to the end one should lay it out. This is a good bourd and capital 
arrangement: the uncertainty and the free choice of the moment 
when the time is come to heed the eynde, overcasts in mist and 
jest the view of the appointed limit.” 

“Fables, fantasies!” 

“Get along, one cannot please you, even against my psychology 
you are harsh — albeit you yourself on your Mount Zion at home 
called psychology a nice, neutral middle point and psychologists 
the most truth-loving people. I fable not a whit when I speak of 
the given time and the appointed end; I speak entirely to the 
point. Wheresoever the houre-glasse is set up and time fixed, un- 
thinkable yet measured time and a fixed end, there we are in the 
field, there we are in clover. Time we sell — let us say XXIV years 
— can we see to the end of that? Is it a good solid amount? There- 
with a man can'live at rack and manger like a lord and astonish 
the world as a great nigromancer with much divel’s work; the 
lenger it goes on, the more forget all paralysis and in highly illu- 
minated state rise out of himself e, yet never transcend but re- 
main the same, though raised to his proper stature by the half- 



bottle of champagne. In drunken bliss he savours all the rapture 
of an almost unbearable draught, till he may with more or less of 
right be convinced that a like infusion has not been in a thousand 
years and in certain abandoned moments may simply hold him- 
self a god. How will such an one come to think about the point 
of time when it is become time to give heed to the end! Only, the 
end is ours, at the end he is ours, that has to be agreed on, and not 
merely silently, how silent so ever it be else, but from man to 
man and expressly.” 

I “So you would sell me time?” 

He: “Time ' 3 Simple time? No, my dear fere, that is not devyll’s 
ware. For that we should not earn the reward, namely that the end 
belongs to us. What "manner of time, that is the heart of the 
matter! Great time, mad time, quite bedivelled time, in which the 
fun waxes fast and furious, with heaven-high leaping and spring- 
ing — and again, of course, a bit miserable, very miserable indeed, 
I not only admit that, I even emphasize it, with pride, for it is 
sitting and fit, such is artist- way and artist-nature. That, as is well 
knowen, is given at all times to excess on both sides and is in 
quite normal way a bit excessive. Alway the pendulum swings 
very wide to and fro between high spirits and melancholia, that 
is usual, is so to speak still according to moderate bourgeois Nuer- 
remberg way, in comparison with that which we purvey. For we 
purvey the uttermost m this direction; we purvey towering flights 
and illuminations, experiences of upliftings and unfetterings, of 
freedom, certainty, facility, feeling of power and triumph, that 
our man does not trust his wits — counting in besides the colossal 
admiration for the made thing, which could soon bring him to 
renounce every outside, foreign admiration — the thrills of self- 
veneration, yes, of exquisite horror of himself, in which he ap- 
pears to himself like an inspired mouthpiece, as a godlike mon- 
ster. And correspondingly deep, honourably deep, doth he sink 
in between-time, not only into void and desolation and unfruitful 
melancholy but also into pains and sicknesse — familiar inciden- 
tally, which had alway been there, which belong to his character, 
yet which are only most honorably enhanced by the illumination 
and the well-knowen ‘sack of heyre.’ Those are pains which a 
man gladly pays, with pleasure and pride, for what he has so much 
enjoyed, pains which he knows from the fairy-tale, the pains 
which the little sea-maid, as from sharp knives, had in her beau- 
tiful human legs she got herself instead of her tail You know 
Andersen’s Little Sea-maid? She would be a sweetheart for you! 
Just say the word and I will bring her to your couch.” 



I: “If you could just keep quiet, prating jackanapes that you 
are'” 0 

He: “How now! Need you always make a rude answer? Al- 
ways you expect me to be stall. But silence is not my motto, I do 
not belong to the Schweigestill family. And Mother Else, any- 
how, has prattled in all proper discretion no end to you about 
her odd occasional guests. Neither am I come hither for the sake 
of silence to a pagan foreign land; but rather for express con- 
firmation between us two and a firm contract upon payment 
against completion. I tell you, we have been silent more than four 
years — and now everything is taking the finest, most exquisite, 
most promising course, and the bell is now half cast. Shall I tell 
you how it stands and what is afoot?” 

I: “It well appeareth‘1 must listen.” 

He: “Woulast like to besides, and art well content that thou 
canst hear. I trow forsooth you are on edge to hear and would 
grumble and growl an I kept it back, and that of. right too. It is 
such a snug, familiar world wherein we are together, thou and I 
— we are right at home therein, pure Kaisersaschem, good old 
German air, from anno MD or thereabouts, shortly before Dr. 
Martinus came, who stood on such stout and sturdy footing with 
me and threw the roll, no, I mean the ink-pot at me, long before 
the thirty years’ frolic. Bethink thee what lively movement of the 
people was with you in, Germany’s midst, on the Rhine and all 
over, how full of agitation and unrest, anxiety, presentiments; 
what press of pilgrims to the Sacred Blood at Niklashausen in the 
Tauberthal, what children’s crusades, bleeding of the Host, fam- 
ine, Peasants’ League, war, the pest at Cologne, meteors, comets, 
and great omens, nuns with the stigmata, miraculous crosses on 
men’s garments, and that amazing standard of the maiden’s shift 
with the Cross, whereunder to march against the Turk! Good 
time, divellishly German time! Don’t you feel all warm and snug 
at the memory? There the right planets come together in the sign 
of the Scorpion, as Master Diirer has eruditely drawn in the medi- 
cal broadsheet, there came the tender little ones, the swarms of 
animated corkscrews, the loving guests from the West Indies into 
the German lands, the flagellants - ah, now you listen! As though 
I spake of the inarching guild of penitents, the Flagellants, who 
flailed for their own and all other sins. But I mean those flagel- 
lates, the invisible tiny ones, the kind that have scourges, like our 
pale Venus, the spirochseta pallida, that is the true sort. But th’art 
right, it sounds so comfortingly like the depths of Middle Ages 
and the flagellum harettconmi fascmariorum. Yea, verily, as fas- 



cinarii they may well shew themselves, our devotees, in the better 
cases, as in yours. They are moreover quite civilized and domesti- 
cated long since, and in old countries where they have been so 
many hundred years at home, they do not play such merry pranks 
and coarse preposterous jokes as erstwhile, with running sore and 
plague and worm-eaten nose. Baptist Sperigler the painter does 
not look as though he, his body wrapped up in hair, would have 
to shake the warning rattle withersoever he went.” 

I: “Is he like that — Spengler 5 ” 

He: “Why not 5 I suppose you think you are the only one m 
like case 5 I know thou haddest thine liefer quite by thyself and 
art vexed at any comparison. My dear fellow, a man always has a 
great many companions. Spengler, of course, is an Esmeraldus It 
is not without reason that he blinks, so sly and shamefast, and not 
for nothing does Inez Rodde call him a sneak. So it is- Leo Zink, 
the Faunus ficarins, has always heretofore escaped; but it got the 
clean, clever Spengler early on. Yet be calm, withhold your jeal- 
ousy. It is a banal, tedious case, productive of nothing at all. He 
is no python, in whom we bring sensational deeds to pass. A little 
brighter, more given to the intellectual he may be become since 
the reception and would peradventure list not so much on read- 
ing the Goncourt journals or Abbe Galiani if he had not the rela- 
tion with the higher world, nor had the privy memorandum. 
Psychology, my dear friend. Disease, indeed I mean repulsive, 
individual, private disease, makes a certain critical contrast to the 
world, to life’s mean, puts a man in a mood rebellious and ironic 
against the bourgeois order, makes its man take refuge with the 
free spirit, with books, in cogitation. But more it is not with 
Spengler. The space that is still allotted him for reading, quoting, 
drinking red wine, and idling about, it isn’t we who have sold it 
to him, it is anything rather than genialized time. A man of the 
world, just singed by our flame, weary, mildly interesting, no 
more. He rots away, liver, kidneys, stomach, heart, bowels; some 
day his voice will be a croak, or he will be deaf, after a few years 
he will ingloriously shuffle off this coyle, with a cynical quip on 
his lips — what then? It forceth but little, there was never any 
illumination, enhancing or enthusiasm, for it was not of the brain, 
not cerebral, you understand — our little ones in that case made 
no force of the upper and noble, it had obviously no fascination 
for them, it did not come to a metastasis into the metaphysical, 
metavenereal, meta-infectivus. ...” 

, I ('with venom): “How long must I needs sit and freeze and 
listen to your intolerable gibberish?” 



He: “Gibberish? Have to listen 5 That’s a funny chord to strike. 
In mine opinion you listen very attentively and are but impatient 
to know more, yea and all. You have just asked eagerly after your 
friend Spengler in Mumch, and if I had not cut you off, you 
would avidly have asked me all this whole time about hell’s fiery 
pit. Don’t, I beg of you, pretend you’re put on. I also have my 
self-respect, and know that I am no unbidden guest. To be short, 
the meta-spirochaetose, that is the meningeal process, and I assure 
you, it is just as though certain of the little ones had a passion for 
the upper storey, a special preference for the head region, the 
meninges, the dura mater, the tentorium, and the pia, which pro- 
tect the tender parenchyma inside and from the moment of the 
first general contagion swarmed passionately hither.” 

I: “It is with you as you say. The rampallion seems to have 
studied medicinam .” 

He: “No more than you theology, that is in bits and as a spe- 
cialist. Will you gainsay that you studied the best of the arts and 
sciences also only as specialist and amateur 5 Your interest had to 
do with — me. I am obliged to you. But wherefore should I, Es- 
meralda’s friend and cohabitant, in which quality you behold me 
before you, not have a special interest in the medical field con- 
cerned, which borders on it, and be at home in it as a specialist? 
Indeed, I constantly and with the greatest attention follow the 
latest results of research in this field. Item, some doctores assert 
and swear by Peter and Paul there must be brain specialists among 
the little ones, amateurs in the cerebral sphere, in short a virus 
nerveux. But these experts are in the aforementioned box. It is 
arsie-versie in the matter, for ’tis the brain ^yhich gapes at their 
visitation and looks forward expectantly, as you to mine, that it 
invites them to itself, draws them unto it, as though it could not 
bear at all to wait for them. Do you still remember? The philoso- 
pher, De anima: *1116 acts of the person acting are performed on 
him the previously disposed to suffer it.’ There you have it: on 
the disposition, the readiness, the invitation, all depends. That 
some men be more qualified to the practising of witcn-craft, then 
other, and we know well how to discern them, of that already are 
aware the worthy authors of the Malleus .” 

I: “Slanderer, I have no connection with you. I did not invite 

He: “La, la, sweet innocence! The far-travelled client of my 
little ones was I suppose not forewarned? And your doctors too 
you chose with sure instinct.” 

L “I looked diem out In the directory. Whom should I have 



asked? And who could have told me that they would leave me in 
the lash 5 What did you do with my two physicians 5 ” 

‘ He: “Put them away, put them away. Oh, of course we put the 
blunderers away in your interest. And at the right moment iwis, 
not too soon and not too late, when they had got the thing in 
tram with their quackery and quicksilvery, and if we had left 
them they might have botched the beautiful case. We allowed 
them the provocation, then basta and away with them! So soon 
as they with their specific treatment had properly limited the first, 
cutaneously emphasized general infiltration, and thus given a pow- 
erful impetus to the metastasis upwards, their business was accom- 
plished, they had to be removed. The fools, to wit, do not know, 
and if they know they cannot change it, that by the general treat- 
ment the upper, the meta-venereal processes are powerfully ac- 
celerated. Indeed, by not treating the fresh stages it is often 
enough forwarded; in short, the way they do it is wrong. In no 
case could we let the provocation by quackery and quickery go 
on. The regression of the general penetration was to be left to 
itself, that the progression up there should go on pretty slowly, 
m order that years, decades, of mgromantic time should be saved 
for you, a whole houre-glasseful of divel-time, genius-time. Nar- 
row and small and finely circumscribed it is today, four years 
after you got it, the place up there in you; but it is there, the 
hearth, the workroom of the little ones, who on the liquor way, 
the water way as it were, got there, the place of incipient illu- 

I: “Do I trap you, blockhead 5 Do you betray yourself and 
name to me yourself the place in my brain, the fever hearth, that 
makes me imagine you, and without which you were not 5 Be- 
trayest to me that in excited state I see and hear you, yet you are 
but a baulrng before my eyes!” 

He: “The Great God Logick! Little fool, it is topside the other 
waie: I am not the product of your pia hearth up there, rather 
the hearth enables you to perceive me, understand, and without 
it, indeed, you would not see me. Is therefore my existence de- 
pendent on your incipient drunkenness? Do I belong in your sub- 
jective? I ask you! Only patience, what goes on and progresses 
there will give you the capacity for a great deal more, will con- 
quer quite other impediments and make you to soar over lame- 
ness and halting. Wait till Good Friday, and ’twill soon be 
Easter! Wait one, ten, twelve years, until the illumination, the 
dazzling radiance as all lame scruples and doubts fall away and 
you will know for what you pay, why you make over body and 


2 35 

soul to us. Then shall osmotic growths sine pudore sprout out of 
the apothecary’s sowing. . . .” 

I (start up) : “Hold thy foul mouth! I forbid thee to speak of 
my father'” 

He: “Oh, thy father is not so ill placed in my mouth. He was 
a shrewd one, always wanting to speculate the elements. The 
mygnm, the point of attack for the knife-pains of the little sea- 
maid — after all, you have them from him. . . . Moreover, I have 
spoken quite correctly: osmosis, fluid diffusion, the proliferation 
process — the whole magic mtreats of these. You have there the 
spinal sac with the pulsating column of fluid therein, reaching to 
the cerebrum, to the meninges, in whose tissues the furtive ve- 
nereal meningitis is at its soundless stealthy work. But our little 
ones could not reach into the inside, into the parenchyma, however 
much they are drawn, however much they longingly draw thither 

— without fluid diffusion, osmosis, with the cell-fluid of the pia 
watering it, dissolving the tissue, and paving a way inside for the 
scourges. Everything comes from osmosis, my friend, in whose 
teasing manifestations you so early diverted yourself.” 

I: “Your baseness makes me to laugh. I wish Schildknapp would 
come back that I might laugh with him. I would tell him father- 
stories, I too. Of the tears in my father’s eyes, when he said: ‘And 
yet they are dead’’ ” 

He: “Cock’s body! You were right to laugh at his ruthful tears 

— aside from the fact that whoever has, by nature, dealings with 
the tempter is always at variance with the feelings of people, al- 
ways tempted to laugh when they weep, and weep when they 
laugh. What then does ‘dead’ mean, when the flora grows so rankly, 
in such diverse colours and shapes? And when they are even helio- 
tropic? What does ‘dead’ mean when the drop displays such a 
healthy appetite? What is sick, what well, my friend, about that 
we must not let the philistine have the last word. Whether he 
does understand life so well remains a question. What has come 
about by the way of death, of sickness, at that life has many a 
time clutched with joy and let itself be led by it higher and 
further. Have you forgotten what you learned in the schools, 
that God can bring good out of evil and that the occasion to it 
shall not be marred? Item, *a man must have been always ill and 
mad in order that others no longer need be so. And where mad- 
ness begins to be malady, there is nobody knows at all. If a man 
taken up in a rapture write in a margent note. ‘Am blissful' Am 
beside myself! That I call new and great! Seething bliss of in- 
spiration! My cheeks glow like molten iron! I am raging, you will 



all be raging, when this comes to you! Then God succour your 
poor sely souls!’ Is that still mad healthiness, normal madness, or 
has he got it in the meninges} The bourgeois is the last to diag- 
nose; for long in any case nothing further about it strikes him as 
strange, because forsooth artists are queer birds anyhow. If next 
day on a rebound he cry: ‘Oh, flat and stale! Oh, a dog’s life, 
when a man can do nothing' Were there but a war, so that some- 
what would happen' If I could croak in good style! May hell pity 
me, for I am a son of hell!’ Does he really mean that? Is it the 
literal truth that he says there of hell, or is it only metaphor for 
a little normal Durer melancolia? In summa, we simply give you 
that for which the classic poet, the lofty and stately genius, so 
beautifully thanked his gods: 

All do the gods give, the Eternal, 

To their favourites, wholly: 

All the joys, the eternal, 

All the pangs, the eternal, 


I: “Mocker and liar' Si diabolus non esset mendax et homicidal 
If I must listen, at least speak to me not of sane and sound great- 
ness and native gold! I know that gold made with fire instead of 
by the sun is not genuine.” 

He “Who says so 5 Has the sun better fire then the kitchen? 
And sane and sound greatness! Whenever I hear of such, I laugh! 
Do you believe in anything like an ingenium that has nothing to 
do with hell 5 Non datur! The artist is the brother of the criminal 
and the madman. Do you ween that any important work was 
ever wrought except its maker learned to understand the way of 
the criminal and madman 5 Morbid and healthy! Without the 
morbid would life all its whole life never have survived. Genuine 
and false' Are we land-loping knaves 5 Do we draw the good 
things out of the nose of nothing 5 Where nothing is, there the 
Devil too has lost his right and no pallid Venus produces any- 
thing worth while! We make naught new — that is other people’s 
matter. We only release, only set free. We let the lameness and 
self-consciousness, the chaste scruples and doubts go to the Devil. 
We physic away fatigue merely by a little charm-hyperaemia, 
the great and the small, of the person and of the time. That is it, 
you do not thmk of the passage of time, you do not think histori- 
cally, when you complain that such and such a one could have it 
‘wholly,’ Joys and pains endlessly, without the hour-glass being 
set for him, the reckoning finally made. What he in his classical 


2 37 

decades could have without us, certainly, that, nowadaies, we 
alone have to offer. And we offer better, we offer only the right 
and true — that is no lenger the classical, my friend, what we give 
to experience, it is the archaic, the primeval, that which long since 
has not been tried. Who knows today, who even knew in classi- 
cal times, what inspiration is, what genuine, old, primeval en- 
thusiasm, insicklied critique, unparalysed by thought or by the 
mortal domination of reason — who knows the divine raptus? I 
believe, indeed, the devil passes for a man of destrucnve criticism? 
Slander and again slander, my friend! Gog’s sacrament! If there 
is anything he cannot abide, if there’s one thing in the whole 
world he cannot stomach, it is destructive criticism. What he 
wants and gives is triumph over it, is shining, sparkling, vainglori- 
ous unreflectiveness!” 

I: “Charlatan'” 

He: “Yea, of a truth. When you set right the grossest false un- 
derstandings about yourself, more out of love of truth than of 
self, then you are a cheap jack. I will not let my mouth be stopped 
by your shamefast ungraciousness, I know that you are but sup- 
pressing your emotions, you are listening to me with as much 
pleasure as the maid to the whisperer in church. . . . Let us just 
for an instance take the ‘idea’ — what you call that, what for a 
hundred years or so you have been calling it, sithence earlier there 
was no such category, as little as musical copyright and all that. 
The idea, then, a matter of three, four bars, no more, isn’t it 5 All 
the residue is elaboration, sticking at it. Or isn’t it? Good. But now 
we are all experts, all critics: we note that the idea is nothing new, 
that it all too much reminds us of something in Rimsky-Korsakov 
or Brahms. What is to be done 5 You just change it. But a changed 
idea, is that still an idea? Take Beethoven’s notebooks. There is 
no thematic conception there as God gave it. He remoulds it and 
adds ‘Meilleur.’ Scant confidence in God’s prompting, scant re- 
spect for it is expressed in that ‘Meilleur’ — itself not so very en- 
thusiastic either. A genuine inspiration, immediate, absolute, un- 
questioned, ravishing, where there is no choice, no tinkering, no 
possible improvement; where all is as a sacred mandate, a visita- 
tion received by the possessed one with faltering and stumbling 
step, with shudders or awe from head to foot, with tears of joy 
blinding his eyes: no, that is not possible with God, who leaves 
the understanding too much to do. It comes but from the divel, 
the true master and giver of such rapture.” 

Even as he spake, and easily, a change came over the fellow: as 
I looked straight at him meseemed he was different, sat there no 



longer a rowdy losel, but changed for the better, I give my word. 
He now had on a white collar and a bow tie, horn-rimmed spec- 
tacles on his hooked nose. Behind them the dark, rather reddened 
eyes gleamed moistly. A mixture of sharpness and softness was on 
the visage; nose sharp, lips sharp, yet soft the chin with a dimple, 
a dimple in the cheek too — pale and vaulted the brow, out of 
which the hair retreats toward the top, yet from there to the 
sides thick, standing up black and woolly, a member of the intel- 
ligentsia, writer on art, on music for the ordinary press, a theoreti- 
cian and critic, who himself composes, so far as thinking allows 
him. Soft, thm hands as well, which accompany his talk with ges- 
tures of refined awkwardness, sometimes delicately stroking his 
thick hair at temples and back. This was now the picture of the 
visitor in the sofa-corner. Taller he had not grown, and above all 
the voice, nasal, distinct, cultivated, pleasing, had remained the 
same, it kept the identity m all the fluidity of appearance. Then 
I hear him speak and see his wide lips, pinched in at the comers 
under the badly shaved upper one, protrude as he articulates. 

“What is art today 5 A pilgrimage on peas. There’s more to 
dancing in these times then a pair of red shoon, and you are not 
the only one the devil depresses. Look at them, your colleagues — 
I know, of course, that you do not look at them, you don’t look 
m their direction, you cherish the illusion that you are alone and 
want everything for yourself, all the whole curse of the time, But 
do look at them for your consolation, your fellow-inaugurators 
of the new music, I mean the honest, serious ones, who see the 
consequences of the situation. I speak not of the folklorists and 
neo-classic asylists whose modernness consists m their forbidding 
themselves a musical outbreak and m wearing with more or less 
dignity the style-garment of a pre-mdividualistic period. Per- 
suade themselves and others that the tedious has become interest- 
ing, because the interesting has begun to grow tedious.” 

I had to laugh, for although the cold continued to pursue me, 
I must confess that since his alteration I felt more comfortable m 
his presence. He smiled as well that is, the corners of his mouth 
tensed a little and he slightly narrowed his eyes. 

“They are powerless too,” he went on, “but I believe we, thou 
and I, lever prefer the decent impotence of those who scorn to 
cloak the general sickness under colour of a dignified mummery. 
But the sickness is general, and the straightforward ones shew the 
symptoms just as well as the producers of back-formations. Does 
not production threaten to come to an end 5 And whatever of 
serious stuff gets on to paper betrays effort and distaste. Extrane- 



ous, social grounds* Lack of demand* And as m the pre-liberal 
period the possibility of production depends largely on the chance 
of a Maecenas* Right, but as explanation doesn’t go far enough. 
Composing itself has got too hard, devilishly hard. Where work 
does not go any longer with sincerity how is one to work* But 
so it stands, my friend, the masterpiece, the self-sufficient form, 
belongs to traditional art, emancipated art rejects it. The thing 
begins with this that the right of command over all the tone- 
combinations ever applied by no means belongs to you. Impos- 
sible the diminished seventh, impossible certain chromatic pass- 
ing notes. Every composer of the better sort carries within 
himself a canon of the forbidden, the self-forbidding, which by 
degrees includes all the possibilities of tonality, m other words 
all traditional music. What has become false, worn-out clich 6 , the 
canon decides. Tonal sounds, chords m a composition with the 
technical horizon of today, outbid every dissonance. As such 
they are to be used, but cautiously and only m extremis, for the 
shock is worse than the harshest discord of old. Everything de- 
pends on the technical horizon. The diminished seventh is right 
and full of expression at the beginning of Op. 1 11. It corresponds 
to Beethoven’s whole technical mveau, doesn’t it* — the tension 
between consonance and the harshest dissonance known to him. 
The principle of tonality and its dynamics lend to the chord its 
specific weight. It has lost it — by a historical process which no- 
body reverses. Listen to the obsolete chord; even by itself alone 
it stands for a technical general position which contradicts the 
actual. Every sound carries the whole, carries the whole story in 
itself. But therefore the judgment of the ear, what is right and 
what wrong, is indisputably and directly related to it, to this one 
chord, in itself not false, entirely without abstract reference to 
the general technical niveau: we have there a claim on rightness 
which the sound image makes upon the artist — a little severe, 
don’t you think* Then does not his activity exhaust itself m the 
execution of the thing contained within the objective conditions of 
production* In every bar that one dares to think, the situation as 
regards technique presents itself to him as a problem. Technique 
in all its aspects demands of him every moment that he do justice 
to it, and give the only nght answer which it at any moment per- 
mits. It comes down to this, that his compositions are nothing 
more than solutions of that kind, nothing but the solving of tech- 
nical puzzles. Art becomes critique. That is something quite hon- 
ourable, who denies it* Much rebellion in strict obedience is 
needed, much independence, much courage. But the danger of 



being uncreative — what do you think 5 Is it perhaps still only a 
danger, or is it already a fixed and settled fact 5 ” 

He paused. He looked at me through his glasses with his humid 
reddened eyes, raised his hand in a fastidious gesture, and stroked 
his hair with his two middle fingers. I said: 

“What are you waiting for 5 Should I admire your mockery? 
I have never doubted ye would know how to say to me what I 
know. Your way of producing it is very purposeful. What you 
mean by it all is to shew me that I could avail myself of, nor 
have, no one otherwise then the divel to kindle me to my work. 
And ye could at the same time not exclude the theoretic possi- 
bility of spontaneous harmony between a man’s own needs and 
the moment, the possibility of ‘rightness,’ of a natural harmony, 
out of which one might create without a thought or any compul- 

He (laughing)- “A very theoretic possibility, in fact. My dear 
fellow, the situation is too critical to be dealt with without cri- 
tique. Moreover I reject the reproach of a tendentious illumina- 
tion of things. We do not need to involve ourselves further in 
dialectic extravagances on your account. What I do not deny is a 
certain general satisfaction which the state of the ‘work’ generally 
vouchsafes me. I am against ‘works,’ by and large. Why should I 
not find some pleasure in the sickness which has attacked the idea 
of the musical work? Don’t blame it on social conditions. I am 
aware you tend to do so, and are in the habit of saying that these 
conditions produce nothing fixed and stable enough to guarantee 
the harmony of the self-sufficient work. True, but unimportant. 
The prohibitive difficulties of the work lie deep in the work itself. 
The historical movement of the musical material has turned against 
the self-contained work. It shrinks in time, it scorns extension in 
time, which is the dimensions of a musical work, and lets it stand 
empty. Not out of impotence, not out of incapacity to give form. 
Rather from a ruthless demand for compression, which taboos the 
superfluous, negates the phrase, shatters the ornament, stands op- 
posed to any extension of time, which is the life-form of the work. 
Work, time, and pretence, they are one, and together they fall 
victim to critique. It no longer tolerates pretence and play, the fic- 
tion, the self-glorification of form, which censors the passions and 
human suffering, divides out the parts, translates into pictures. 
Only the non-fictional is still permissible, the unplayed, the un- 
disguised and untransfigured expression of suffering in its actual 
moment. Its impotence and extremity are so ingrained that no 
seeming play with them is any lenger allowed.” 



I (very ironically): “Touching, touching! The devil waxes 
pathetic. The poor devil moralizes. Human suffering goes to his 
heart. How high-mindedly he shits on art' You would have done 
better not to mention your antipathy to the work if you did not 
want me to realize that your animadversions are naught but divel- 

He (unperturbed): “So far, so good. But at bottom you do 
agree that to face the facts of the time is neither sentimental nor 
malicious. Certain things are no longer possible. The pretence of 
feeling as a compositional work of art, the self-satisfied pretence 
of music itself, has become impossible and no longer to be pre- 
served— I mean the perennial notion that prescribed and formal- 
ized elements shall be introduced as though they were the in- 
violable necessity of the single case. Or put it the other way 
round: the special case behaving as though it were identical with 
the prescribed and familiar formula. For four hundred years all 
great music has found its satisfaction in pretending that this unity 
has been accomplished without a break — it has pleased itself with 
confusing the conventional universal law to which it is subject 
with its own peculiar concern. My friend, it cannot go on. The 
criticism of ornament, convention, and the abstract generality 
are all the same one. What it demolishes is the pretence in the 
bourgeois work of art; music, although she makes no picture, is 
also subject to it. Certainly, this ‘not making a picture’ gives her 
an advantage over the other arts. But music too by untiringly con- 
forming her specific concerns to the ruling conventions has as far 
as she could played a role in the highbrow swindle. The inclu- 
sion of expression in the general appeasement is the innermost 
principle of musical pretence. It is all up with it. The claim to 
consider the general harmonically contained in the particular 
contradicts itself. It is all up with the once bindingly valid con- 
ventions, which guaranteed the freedom of play.” 

I: “A man could know that and recognize freedom above and 
beyond all critique. He could heighten the play, by playing with 
forms out of which, as he well knew, life has disappeared.” 

He: “I know, I know. Parody. It might be fun, if it were not 
so melancholy in its aristocratic nihilism. Would you promise 
yourself much pleasure and profit from such tricks?” 

I (retort angrilyj: “No.” 

He: “Terse and testy. But why so testy 5 Because I put to you 
friendly questions of conscience, just between ourselves 5 Because 
I shewed you your despairing heart and set before your eyes with 
the expert’s insight the difficulties absolutely inseparable from 



composition today 5 You might even so value me as an expert. The 
Devil ought to know something about music. If I mistake not, 
you were reading just now in a book by the Christian m love with 
aesthetics. He knew and understood my particular relation to this 
beautiful art — the most Christian of all arts, he finds — but Chris- 
tian in reverse, as it were introduced and developed by Chris- 
tianity indeed, but then rejected and banned as the Divel’s King- 
dom— so there you are. A highly theological business, music — 
the way sm is, the way I am. The passion of that Christian for 
music is true passion, and as such knowledge and corruption m 
one. For there is true passion only in the ambiguous and ironic. 
The highest passion concerns the absolutely questionable. . . . 
No, musical I am indeed, don’t worry about that. I have sung you 
the role of poor Judas because of the difficulties into which music 
like everything else has got today. Should I not have done so 5 
But I did it only to point out to you that you should break 
through them, that you should lift yourself above them to giddy 
heights of self-admiration, and do such things that you will be- 
hold them only with shudders of awe.” 

I: “An annunciation, in fact. I am to grow osmotic growths.” 

He: “It comes to the same thing. Ice crystals, or the same made 
of starch, sugar, and cellulose, both are nature; we ask, for which 
shall we praise Nature more. Your tendency, *my friend, to in- 
quire after the objective, the so-called truth, to question as worth- 
less the subjective, pure experience- that is truly petty bourgeois, 
you ought to overcome it. As you see me, so I exist to you. What 
serves it to ask whether I really am 5 Is not ‘really’ what works, 
is not truth experience and feeling 5 What uplifts you, what in- 
creases your feeling of power and might and domination, damn 
it, that is the truth'— and whether ten times a lie when looked at 
from the moral angle This is what I think: that an untruth of a 
kind that enhances power holds its own against any ineffectively 
virtuous truth. And I mean too that creative, genius-giving disease, 
disease that rides on high horse over all hindrances, and springs 
with drunken daring from peak to peak, is a thousand times 
dearer to life than plodding healthiness. I have never heard any- 
thing stupider then that from disease only disease can come. Life 
is not scrupulous — by morals it sets not a fart. It takes the reck- 
less product of disease, feeds on and digests it, and as soon as it 
takes it to itself it is health Before the fact of fitness for life, my 
good man, all distinction of disease and health falls away. A whole 
host and generation of youth, receptive, sound to the core, flings 
itself on the work of the morbid genius, made genius by disease: 



admires it, praises it, exalts it, carries it away, assimilates it unto 
itself and makes it over to culture, which lives not on home-made 
bread alone, but as well on provender and poison from the apothe- 
cary’s shop at the sign of the Blessed Messengers. Thus saith to you 
the unbowdlerized Sammael. He guarantees not only that toward 
the end of your houre-glasse years your sense of your power and 
splendour will more and more outweigh the pangs of the little 
sea-maid and finally mount to most triumphant well-being, to a 
sense of bursting health, to the walk and way of a god. That is 
only the subjective side of the thing, I know; it would not suffice, 
it would seem to you unsubstantial. Know, then, we pledge you 
the success of that which with our help you will accomplish. You 
will lead the way, you will strike up the march of the future, the 
lads will swear by your name, who thanks to your madness will 
no longer need to be mad. On your madness they will feed m 
health, and in them you will become healthy Do you under- 
stand? Not only will you break through the paralysing difficulties 
of the time — you will break through time itself, by which I 
mean the cultural epoch and its cult, and dare to be barbaric, 
twice barbaric indeed, because of coming after the humane, after 
all possible root-treatment and bourgeois raffinement. Believe me, 
barbarism even has more grasp of theology then has a culture fal- 
len away from cult, which even m the religious has seen only cul- 
ture, only the humane, never excess, paradox, the mystic passion, 
the utterly unbourgeois ordeal. But I hope you do not marvel 
that ‘the Great Adversary’ speaks to you of religion. Gog’s nails! 
Who else, I should like to know, is to speak of it today? Surely 
not the liberal theologian' After all I am by now its sole custodian' 
In whom will you recognize theological existence if not m me? 
And who can lead a theological existence without me? The re- 
ligious is certainly my line: as certainly as it is not the line of 
bourgeois culture. Since culture fell away from the cult and made 
a cult of itself, it has become nothing else then a falling away; 
and all the world after a mere five hundred years is as sick and 
tired of it as though, salvo, venia, they had ladled it in with cook- 

It was now, it was even a little before this, when he was utter- 
ing his taunts and mockage about the theological existence of the 
Devil and being the guardian of the religious life, speaking m 
flowing language like a lectour, that I noticed the merchaunte be- 
fore me on the sofa had changed again, he seemed no longer to 
be the spectacled intellectual and amateur of music who had 
awhile been speaking. And he was no lenger just sitting in his 



comer, he was riding legerement, half-sitting, on the curved arm 
of the sofa, his fingertips crossed in his lap and both thumbs 
spread out. A little parted beard on his chin wagged up and down 
as he talked, and above his open lips with the sharp teeth behind 
them was the little moustache with stiff twisted points. I had to 
laugh, in all my frozenness, at his metamorphosis into the old 

“Obedient servant,” I say. “I ought to know you; and I find it 
most civil of you to give me a privatissimum here in our hall. As 
ye now are, my Protean friend, I look to find you ready to 
quench my thirst for knowledge and conclusively demonstrate 
your independent presence by telling me not only things I know 
but also of some I would like to know. You have lectured me a 
good deal about the houre-glasse time you purvey, also about the 
payment in pains to be made now and again for the higher life; 
but not about the end, about what comes afterwards, the eter nal 
obliteration. That is what excites curiosity, and you have not, 
long as you have been squatting there, given space to the ques- 
tion in all your talk. Shall I not know the price in cross and 
kreuzer? Answer me: what is life like in the Dragon’s Den? What 
have they to expect, who have listened to you, in the spelunca ?” 

He (laughs a falsetto laugh) : “Of the pemtcies, the confutatio 
you want to have knowledge? Call that prying, I do, the ex- 
uberance of the youthful scholar. There is time enough, so much 
that you can’t see to the end of it, and so much excitement com- 
ing first — you will have a plenty to do besides taking heed to the 
end, or even noticing the moment when it might be time to take 
heed to the endmg. But I’ll not deny you the information and do 
not need to palliate, for what can seriously trouble you, that is 
so far off? Only it is not easy actually to speak thereof — that is, 
one can really not speak of it at all, because the actual is beyond 
what by word can be declared, many words may be used and 
fashioned, but all together they are but tokens, standing for names 
which do not and cannot make claim to describe what is never 
to be described and denounced in words. That is the secret de- 
light and security of hell, that it is not to be informed on, that it 
is protected from speech, that it just is, but cannot be public in 
the newspaper, be brought by any word to critical knowledge, 
wherefor precisely the words '‘subterranean,’ ‘cellar,’ ‘thick walls,’ 
‘soundlessness,’ ‘forgottenness,’ ‘hopelessness,’ are the poor, weak 
symbols. One must just be satisfied with symbolism, my good 
man, when one is speaking of hell, for there everything ends— 
not only the word that describes, but everything altogether. This 


2 45 

is indeed the chiefest characteristic and what in most general 
terms is to be uttered about it: both that which the newcomer 
thither first experiences, and what at first with his as it were 
sound senses he cannot grasp, and will not understand, because 
his reason or what limitation soever of his understanding prevents 
him, in short because it is quite unbelievable enough to make him 
turn white as a sheet, although it is opened to him at once on 
greeting, in the most emphatic and concise words, that ‘here 
everything leaves off.’ Every compassion, every grace, every 
sparing, every last trace of consideration for the incredulous, im- 
ploring objection ‘that you verily cannot do so unto a soul’: it is 
done, it happens, and indeed without being called to any reckon- 
ing in words; m soundless cellar, far down beneath God’s hear- 
ing, and happens to all eternity. No, it is bad to speak of it, it lies 
aside from and outside of speech, language has naught to do with 
and no connection with it, wherefore she knows not nghtly what 
time-form to apply to it and helps herself perforce with the fu- 
ture tense, even as it is written- ‘There shall be wailing and gnash- 
ing of teeth.’ Good; these are a few word-sounds, chosen out of 
a rather extreme sphere of language, yet but weak symbols and 
without proper reference to what ‘shall be’ there, unrecorded, un- 
reckoned, between thick walls. True it is that inside these echo- 
less walls it gets right loud, measureless loud, and by much over- 
filling the ear with screeching and beseeching, gurgling and 
groamng, with yauling and baulmg and caterwauling, with horrid 
winding and grinding and racking ecstasies of anguish no man can 
hear his own tune, for that it smothers m the general, in the thick- 
clotted diapason of trills and chirps lured from this everlasting 
dispensation of the unbelievable combined with the irresponsible. 
Nothing forgetting the dismal groans of lust mixted therewith; 
since endless torment, with no possible collapse, no swoon to put 
a period thereto, degenerates into shameful pleasure, wherefore 
such as have some intuitive knowledge speak indeed of the ‘lusts 
of hell.’ And therewith mockage and the extreme of ignominy 
such as belongs with martyrdom; for this bliss of hell is like a 
deep-voiced pitifull jeering and scome of all the immeasureable 
anguish; it is accompanied by whinnying laughter and the pointing 
finger; whence the doctrine that the damned have not only tor- 
ment but also mockery and shame to bear; yea, that hell is to be 
defined as a monstrous combination of suffering and derision, un- 
endurable yet to be endured world without end. There will they 
devour their proper tongues for greatness of the agony, yet make 
no common cause on that account, for rather they are full of ha- 



tred and scorn against each other, and in the midst of their trills 
and quavers hurl at one another the foulest oaths. Yea, the finest 
and proudest, who never let a lewd word pass their lips, are 
forced to use the filthiest of all. A part of their torment and lust 
of shame standeth therein that they must cogitate the extremity 
of filthiness.” 

I: “Allow me, this is the first word you have said to me about 
what manner of suffering the damned have to bear Pray note 
that you have only lectured to me on the affects of hell, but not 
about what objectively and in fact must await the damned.” 

He “Your curiosity is childish and indiscreet. I put that m the 
foreground, but I am very well aware indeed, my good soul, 
what hides behind it. You assaye to question me m order to be 
feared, to be afraid of the pangs of hell. For the thought of back- 
ward turning and rescue, of your so-called soul-heal, of with- 
drawing from the promise lurks in the back of your mind and 
you are acting to summon up the attritio cordis , the heartfelt 
anguish and dread of what is to come, of which you may well 
have heard, that by it man can arrive at the so-called blessedness. 
Let me tell you, that is an entirely exploded theology. The attri- 
tion-theory has been scientifically superseded. It is shown that 
contntio is necessary, the real and true protestant remorse for sin, 
which means not merely fear repentance by churchly regulation 
but inner, religious conversion, ask yourself whether you are 
capable of that, ask yourself, your pride will not fail of an an- 
swer. The longer the less will you be able and willing to let your- 
self m for contntio, sithence the extravagant life you will lead is 
a great indulgence, out of the which a man does not so simply 
find the way back into the good safe average. Therefore, to your 
reassurance be it said, even hell will not afford you aught essen- 
tially new, only the more or less accustomed, and proudly so. It 
is at bottom only a continuation of the extravagant existence. To 
knit up in two words its quintessence, or if you like its chief mat- 
ter, is that it leaves its denizens only the choice between extreme 
cold and an extreme heat which can melt gramte. Between these 
two states they flee roaring to and fro, for in the one the other 
always seems heavenly refreshment but is at once and in the most 
hellish meaning of the word intolerable. The extreme in this must 
please you.” 

I: “It liketh me. Meanwhile I would warn you lest you feel all 
too certain of me. A certain shallowness in your theology might 
tempt you thereto. You rely on my pride preventing me from the 
contritio necessary to salvacion, ana do not bethink yourself that 

dr. faustus 


there is a prideful contntio. The remorse of Cam, for instance, 
who was of the firm persuasion that his sm was greater than could 
ever be forgiven him The contntio without hope, as complete 
disbelief in the possibility of mercy and forgiveness, the rockhke 
firm conviction of the sinner that he has done too grossly for 
even the Everlasting Goodness to be able to forgive his sin — 
only that is the true contntio. I call your attention to the fact 
that it is the mghest to redemption, for Goodness the most ir- 
resistible of all. You will admit that the everyday sinner can be 
but very moderately interesting to Mercy. In his case the act of 
grace has but little impetus, it is but a feeble motion. Mediocrity, 
m fact, has no theological status. A capacity for sm so healless 
that it makes its man despair from his heart of redemption — that 
is the true theological way to salvation.” 

He “You are a sly dog! And where will the likes of you get the 
single-mindedness, the naive recklessness of despair, which would 
be the premise for this smfull waye to salvacion? Is it not playne 
to you that the conscious speculation on the charm which great 
guilt exercises on Goodness makes the act of mercy to the utter- 
most unpossible to it? ” 

I: “And yet only through this non plus ultra can the high prick 
of the dramatic-theological existence be arrived at, I mean the 
most abandoned guilt and the last and most irresistible challenge 
to the Everlasting Goodness.” 

He- “Not bad. Of a truth ingenious. And now I will tell you 
that precisely heads of your sort comprise the population of hell. It 
is not so easy to get into hell, we should long have been suffering 
for lack of space if we let Philip and Cheyney in. But your theo- 
logian in gram, your arrant wily-pie who speculates on specula- 
tion because he has speculation m his blood already from the fa- 
ther’s side — there must be foul work an he did not belong to the 

As he said that, or even somewhat afore, the fellow changed 
again, the way clouds do, without knowing it, apparently; is no 
longer sitting on the arm of the couch before me in the room, 
there back in the sofa-comer is the unspeakable losel, the cheesy 
rapscallion in the cap, with the red eyes. And says to me in his 
slow, nasal, actor’s voice: 

“To make an end and a conclusion will be agreeable to you. I 
have devoted much time and tarried long to entreat of this matter 
with you — I hope and trust you realize. But also you are an at- 
tractive case, that I freely admit. From early on we had an eye on 
you, on your quick, arrogant head, your mighty ingeniwn and 



memoriam. They have made you study theology, as your con- 
ceit devised it, but you would soon name yourself no lenger of 
theologians, but put the Good Boke under the bench and from 
then on stuck to the figures, characters, and incantations of music, 
which pleased us not a bttle. For your vaine glory aspired to the 
elemental, and you thought to gam it in the form most mete for 
you, where algebraic magic is married with corresponding clever- 
ness and calculation and yet at the same time it always boldly 
warres against reason and sobriety. But did we then not know that 
you were too clever and cold and chaste for the element; and 
did we not know that you were sore vexed thereat and piteously 
bored with your shamefast cleverness* Thus it was our busily pre- 
pensed plan that you should run into our arms, that is, of my 
little one, Esmeralda, and that you got it, the illumination, the 
aphrodisiacum of the brain, after which with body and soul and 
mind you so desperately longed. To be short, between us there 
needs no crosse way in the Spesser’s Wood and no cercles. We 
are in league and business — with your blood you have affirmed it 
and promised yourself to us, and are baptized ours This my visit 
concerns only the confirmation thereof. Time you have taken 
from us, a genius’s time, high-flying time, full XXIV years ab dato 
recessi , which we set to you as the limit. When they are finished 
and fully expired, which is not to be foreseen, and such a time is 
also an eternity — then you shalbe fetched. Against this meanwhile 
shall we be in all things subject and obedient, and hell shall profit 
you, if you renay all living creature, all the Heavenly Host and 
all men, for that must be.” 

I (in an exceeding cold draught)- “What* That is new. What 
signifies the clausula *” 

He: “Renounce, it means. What otherwise* Do you think that 
jealousy dwells m the height and not also in the depths* To us 
you are, fine, well-create creature, promised and espoused. Thou 
maist not love.” 

I (really have to laugh). “Not love 1 Poor divel! Will you sub- 
stantiate the report of your stupidity and wear a bell even as a 
cat, that you will base business and promise on so elastic, so en- 
snaring a concept as love* Will the Devil prohibit lust? If it be 
not so, then he must endure sympathy, yea, even cantos, else he 
is betrayed just as it is written in the books. What I have invited, 
and wherefore you allege that I have promised you — what is then 
the source of it, prithee, but love, even if that poisoned by you 
with God’s sanction* The bond in which you assert we stand 
has itself to do with love, you doating fool. You allege that I 



wanted it and repaired to the wood, the crosse-waye, for the sake 
of the work. But they say that work itself has to do with love.” 

He (laughing through his nose): “Do, re, mi! Be assured that 
thy psychological feints do not trap me, any better then do the 
theological. Psychology — God warrant us, do you still hold with 
it^ That is bad, bourgeois nineteenth century. The epoch is 
heartily sick of it, it will soon be a red rag to her, and he will 
simply get a crack on the pate, who disturbs life by psychology. 
We are entering into times, my friend, which will not be hood- 
winked by psychology. . . . This en passant. My condition was 
clear and direct, determined by the legitimate jealousy of hell. 
Love is forbidden you, in so far as it warms. Thy life shall be 
cold, therefore thou shalt love no human being. What are you 
thinking, then 3 The illumination leaves your mental powers to 
the last unimpaired, yes, heightens them to an ecstatie of delirium 
— what shall it then go short of save the dear soul and the price- 
less life of feeling 3 A general chilling of your life and your re- 
lations to men lies in the nature of things — rather it lies already 
m your nature; in feitn we lay upon you nothing new, the little 
ones make nothing new and strange out of you, they only ingeni- 
ously strengthen and exaggerate all that you already are. The cold- 
ness in you is perhaps not prefigured, as well as the paternal head 
paynes out of which the pangs of the little sea-maid are to come 3 
Cold we want you to be, that the fires of creation shall be hot 
enough to warm yourself in. Into them you will flee out of the 
cold of your life. . . .” 

I: “And from the burning back to the ice. It seems to be hell 
in advance, which is already offered me on earth.” 

He: “It is that extravagant living, the only one that suffices a 
proud soul. Your arrogance will probably never want to exchange 
with a lukewarm one. Do you strike with me 3 A work-filled 
eternity of human life shall you enjoy. When the houre-glasse 
runs out, then I shall have good power to deal and dole with, to 
move and manage the fine-created Creature after my way and 
my pleasure, be it in life, soul, flesh, blood or goods — to all 

There it was again, the uncontrollable disgust that had already 
seized me once before and shaken me, together with the glacial 
wave of cold which came over me again from the tight-trousered 
strizzi there. I forgot myself in a fury of disgust, it was like a faint- 
ing-fit. And then I heard Schildknapp’s easy, everyday voice, he 
sat there in the sofa-corner, saying to me: 

“Of course you didn’t miss anything. Newspapers and two 

2 50 


games of billiards, a round of Marsala and the ?ood soul, „ u 
rhe govemo over the coals.” ° ° Q S0UJs ca Umg 

I was sitting m my summer suit, by my lamn Hip n, 
book on my knee Can’t be anythin/ else in Chnstlan s 

must have dhased the losel out and earned it/ excitement I 
before Schildknapp returned ^ an< ^ ru £ tmek 


It consoles me to be able to tell myself that the reader cannot lay 
to my charge the extraordinary size of the last chapter, which 
considerably exceeds the disquieting number of pages in the one 
on Kretschmar’s lectures. The unreasonable demand made upon 
the reader does not lie at my door and need not trouble me. To 
mitigate Adrian’s account by subjecting it to any kind of editing; 
to dismiss the “dialogue” in a few numbered paragraphs (will the 
reader please note the protesting quotation-marks I have given 
the word, without concealing from myself that they can remove 
from it only part of its indwelling horror); to do this no regard 
for the possible failure of the reader’s capacity could possibly 
move me. With rueful loyalty I had to reproduce a given thing; 
to transfer it from Adrian’s music-paper to my manuscript; and 
that I have done, not only word for word, but also, I may say, 
letter for letter — often laying down the pen to recover myself, 
to measure my study floor with heavy, pensive tread or to throw 
myself on my sofa with my hands clasped upon my brow. So 
that, however strange it may seem, this chapter, which I had 
only to copy down, actually did not leave my sometimes trem- 
bling hand any faster than the earlier ones which I composed my- 

To copy, understandingly and critically, is in fact — at least 
for me, and Monsignor Hinterpfortner agrees with me — an occu- 
pation as intensive and time-consuming as putting down one’s 
own thoughts. It is likely that the reader may before now have 
underestimated the number of days and weeks that I had spent 
upon the life-story of my departed friend. It is even more prov- 
able that his imagination will have fallen behind the point of time 
at which I am composing the present lines. He may laugh at my 
pedantry, but I consider it right to let him know that since I be- 
gan writing almost a year has passed; and that whilst I have been 
composing the last chapters, April 1944 has arrived. 

That date, of course, is the point where I now stand in my 
actual writing and not the one up to which my narrative has pro- 



gressed. That has only reached the autumn of 1912, twenty 
months before the outbreak of the last war, when Adrian and 
Rudiger Schildknapp came back from Palestrina to Munich and 
he lodged at first in Pension Gisela in Schwabing. I do not know 
why this double time-reckoning arrests my attention or why I am 
at pains to point out both the personal and the objective, the 
time in which the narrator moves and that in which the narrative 
does so. This is a quite extraordinary interweaving of time-units, 
destined, moreover, to include even a third: namely, the tune 
which one day the courteous reader will take for the reading of 
what has been written; at which point he will be dealing with a 
threefold ordering of time: his own, that of the chronicler, and 
historic time. 

I will not lose myself further in these speculations, to my mind 
as idle as they are agitating. I will only add that the word “his- 
toric” fits with a far more sinister emphasis the time in which, 
than about which, I write. In these last days the battle for Odessa 
has been raging, with heavy losses, ending in the recapture by the 
Russians of the famous city on the Black Sea — though the enemy 
was not able to disorganize our retreat. The case will be the same 
with Sebastopol, another of our pledges unto death, which the 
obviously superior antagonist appears to mean to wrest from us. 
Meanwhile the terrors of almost daily air raids upon our belea- 
guered Fortress Europa grows into incredible dimensions. What 
does it avail that many of these monsters, raining down ever more 
powerful, more horrible explosives, fall victim to our heroic de- 
fence? Thousands darken the skies of our fiercely united continent, 
and ever more of our cities fall in ruins. Leipzig, which played so 
significant a part in Leverkuhn’s development and tragedy, has 
lately been struck with might and main; its famous publishing quar- 
ter is, I hear, a heap of rubble, with immeasurable destruction of 
educational and literary property: a very heavy loss not only for us 
Germans but altogether for the world which makes culture its 
concern, but which in blindness or in even-handedness, I will not 
venture to say which, appears to pocket up the loss. 

. Yes, I fear it will prove our destruction that a fatally inspired 
policy has brought us into conflict with two powers at once: one 
of them richest in man-power and revolutionary elan; the other 
mightiest in productive capacity. It seems, indeed, that this Amer- 
ican production-machine did not even need to run to capacity to 
throw out an absolutely crushing abundance of war material. 
That the flabby democracies did know after all how to use these 
frightful tools is a staggering revelation, weaning us daily from 



the mistaken idea that war is a German prerogative, and that all 
other peoples must prove to be bunglers and amateurs in the art. 
We have begun — Monsignor Hinterpfortner and I are no longer 
exceptions — to expect anything and everything from the war 
technique of the Anglo-Saxons. The fear of invasion grows: we 
await the attack, from all sides, with preponderance of material 
and millions of soldiers, on our European fortress — or shall I say 
our prison, our madhouse? It is expected, and only the most im- 
pressive accounts of our measures against enemy landings, meas- 
ures that really do seem tremendous, and are, indeed, designed to 
protect us and our hemisphere from the loss of our present lead- 
ers, only these accounts can preserve our mental balance and pre- 
vent our yielding to the general horror of the future. 

Certainly the time in which I write has vastly greater historical 
momentum than the time of which I write, Adrian’s time, which 
brought him only to the threshold of our incredible epoch. I feel 
as though one should call out to him, as to all those who are no 
longer with us and were not with us when it began- “Lucky 
you!” and a fervent “Rest in peace!” Adrian is safe from the days 
we dwell in. The thought is dear to me, I prize it, and in ex- 
change for that certainty I accept the terrors of the time in 
which I myself continue to live on. It is to me as though I stood 
here and lived for him, lived instead of him; as though I bore the 
burden his shoulders were spared, as though I showed my love by 
taking upon me living for him, living in his stead. The fancy, 
however illusory, however foolish, does me good, it flatters the 
always cherished desire to serve, to help, to protect him — this de- • 
sire which during the lifetime of my friend found so very little 


* * 

It is worthy of remark that Adrian’s stay in the Schwabing pen- 
sion lasted only a few days and that he made no effort to find a 
suitable permanent dwelling in the city. Schildknapp had already 
written from Italy to his former abode m the Amalienstrasse and 
arranged to be received there. But Adrian was not thinking either 
of retu rning to his old place at Frau Senator Rodde’s or even of 
remaining in Munich. His resolve seemed to have been taken long 
since and silently; he did not even go out to Pfeiffering near 
Waldshut to look over the ground again and close the bargain, 
but did it all by one telephone conversation and that a brief one. 
He called up the Schweiges tills from Pension Giseia — it was 



Mother Else herself who answered the call — introduced himself 
as one of the two bicyclists who had been privileged to inspect 
the house and farm, and asked whether and at what price they 
could let him have a sleeping-chamber in the upper storey and 
in the day-time the Abbot’s room on the ground floor. Frau 
Schweigestill let the price rest for the moment — it proved to be 
very modest — but was concerned to find out which of the two 
earlier visitors it was, the writer or the musician. She obviously 
laboured to bring back her impressions of the visit and realize 
which was the musician; then she expressed some misgiving, 
though only in his own interest and from his own point of view. 
Even this she put only in the form that she thought he must know 
best what suited him. They, the Schweigestills, she said, did not 
set up to be pension-keepers as a business, they only took in oc- 
casionally, so to speak from case to case, lodgers and mealers, that 
the gentlemen had been able to gather the other time from what 
she said, and whether he, the speaker, represented such an occasion 
and such a case, that she must leave him to judge, he would have 
it pretty quiet and dull with them, and primitive as far as con- 
veniences went, no bathroom, no W.C., just a peasant make-shift 
outside the house, and she did wonder that a gentleman of — if 
she had heard aright — not yet thirty, given to one of the fine 
arts, wanted to take quarters m the country, so far away from the 
centres of culture, but wonder was maybe not the right word, it 
was not hers and her husband’s way to wonder, and if maybe it 
was just that he was looking for, because really most folks did 
wonder too much, then he might come, but it better be thought 
about, especially since Maxi, her husband, and she set store by an 
arrangement not made just out of some quirk and giving notice 
after they tried it a bit, but meaning from the first to bide, you 
understand, net e wahr y gellerts p? and so on. 

He was coming for good, answered Adrian, and he had consid- 
ered a long time. The kind of life that awaited him he had tried 
within himself, found it good and espoused it. On the price, a 
hundred and twenty marks a month, he was agreed. The choice 
of bedroom he left to her, and was looking forward with pleas- 
ure to the Abbot’s room. In three days he would move in. 

And so it was. Adrian employed his brief stay in the city in 
making arrangements with a copyist recommended to him (I 
think by Kretschmar), first bassoon in the Zapfenstosser orches- 
tra, a man named Griepenkerl, who earned a bit of money in this 
way. He.left in his hands a part of the partitur of Love's Labour's 
Lost . He had not quite finished with the work in Palestrina, was 



still orchestrating the last two acts, and was not yet quite clear in 
his mind about the sonata-form overture, the original conception 
of which had changed very much by the introduction of that 
striking second theme, itself quite foreign to the opera, playing so 
spirited a part m the recapitulation and closing allegro. He had 
besides much trouble with the time-markings and so on, which 
for extended stretches he had during composition neglected to 
put in. Moreover it was clear to me that not by chance had the 
end of his Italian sojourn and the end of the work failed to co- 
incide. Even if he had consciously striven for such a coincidence, 
an unconscious intuition had prevented it. He was far too much 
the man of the semper ide?n , of self-assertion against circum- 
stances, to regard it as desirable to come to the end of a task pur- 
sued m a former scene at the actual moment when he changed it 
for a new one. For the sake of the inner continuity it would be 
better, so he said to himself, to bring with him into the new situ- 
ation a remnant of the old occupation, and only to fix the mv ard 
eye on something new when the outward new should have be- 
come routine. 

With his never heavy luggage, to which belonged a brief-case 
with his scores and the rubber tub which in Italy too had fur- 
nished his bath, he travelled to his goal from the Starnberger sta- 
tion on one of the local trains, which stopped not only m Walds- 
hut but ten minutes later in Pfeiffering. Two boxes of books and 
some oddments had been left to follow by freight tram. It was 
near the end of October, the weather, still dry, was already raw 
and gloomy. The leaves were falling. The son of the house of 
Schweigestill, Gereon, the same who had introduced the new 
manure-spreader, a young farmer rather disobliging and curt but 
obviously knowing his business, awaited the guest at the little 
station, on the box of a trap with a high frame and stiff springs. 
While the luggage was put in, he let the thong of his whip play 
across the backs of the team of sturdy brown horses. Not many 
words were exchanged on the drive. Adrian had seen from the 
train the Rohmbiihel with its crown of trees, the grey mirror of 
the Klammer; now his eyes rested on these sights from close at 
hand. Soon the cloister-baroque of the Schweigestill house came 
in sight; in the open square of the courtyard the vehicle rounded 
the old elm in the middle, whose leaves were now mostly lying 
on the bench beneath. 

Frau Schweigestill stood under the gateway with the ecclesi- 
astical coat of arms; beside her was her daughter Clementine, a 
brown-eyed country girl in modest peasant dress. Their words of 

dr. faustus 


way it is with seasickness and sick headache aha, he sometimes 
has it pretty bad 15 ” She thought so already, from his looking so 
hard at the blinds and curtains m the bedroom; darkness, lying m 
the dark, night, black, especially no light m the eyes, that was the 
right thing, as long as the misery went on, and very strong tea, 
real sour with lemon. Frau Schweigestill was not unacquainted 
with migraine — that is, she had never had it herself but her Maxi 
had suffered from it periodically when he was younger, m time it 
had gone away. She would hear no apologies from the guest on 
the score of his infirmity, or his having smuggled a chronic pa- 
tient into the house, so to speak, she said only: “Oh, get along 
with you!” Something of the sort, she thought, one would have 
guessed, for when anyone like him from over there where cul- 
ture is going on came out to Pfeiffering like that, he would have 
his reasons for it, and obviously it was a case that had a claim on 
the understanding, Herr Leverkuhn 1 But he’d come to the right 
address for understanding, if not for culture, eh^ — and so on and 
so on, good woman that she was. 

Between her and Adrian, as they stood or walked about, ar- 
rangements were made, which, surprisingly perhaps to both of 
them, were to regulate his outward existence for nineteen years. 
The village carpenter was called in to measure the space beside 
the doors in the Abbot’s room for shelves to hold Adrian’s books, 
not higher than the old panelling under the leather hangings; also 
the chandelier with the stumps of wax candles was wired for elec- 
tricity. Various other changes came about through time, m the 
room that was destined to see the birth of so many masterpieces 
to this day largely withheld from public knowledge and admira- 
tion. A carpet almost covering the floor, only too necessary in 
winter, soon hid the worn boards; and to the corner bench, the 
only seat in the room besides the Savonarola chair in front of the 
work-table, there was added after a few days without any fastidi- 
ous regard for style, which was not in Adrian’s line, a very deep 
reading- and easy-chair covered with grey velvet, from Bern- 
heimer’s in Munich, a commendable piece, which together with 
its separate stool, a tabouret with a cushion, deserved the name of 
chaise-longue; it took the place of a divan, and did its owner al- 
most two decades of service. 

The purchases — the carpet and chair from the furnishing shop 
in the Maximiliansplatz — I mention partly with the aim of mak- 
ing it clear that there was convenient opportunity for communi- 
cation with the city by numerous trains, some of them fast ones 
which took less than an hour. So that Adrian did not, as Frau 




Schweigestill’s way of talking would lead one to think, bury him- 
self in solitude by settling in Pfeiffenng, cut off from “culture.” 
Even when he visited an evening entertainment, an academy con- 
cert or the Zapfenstosser orchestra, an opera performance or 
an evening company — and that too did happen — there was an 
eleven-o’clock tram for him to travel home in. Of course he could 
not then count on being fetched from the station with the 
Schweigestill cart; m such cases he arranged beforehand with a 
Waldshut livery, or even, to his great satisfaction, returned on 
foot, on clear winter nights, by the road along the pond to the 
sleeping courtyard of the Schweigestill house. On these occasions 
he gave a sign to Kaschperl-Suso, at this hour free of his chain, 
that he might not rouse the house. He did this with a little metal 
pipe tuned by means of a screw, whose higher notes were of 
such an extreme vibration that the human ear could scarcely hear 
them from close by. On the other hand they had a very strong 
effect and at a surprising distance on the quite differently consti- 
tuted ear-drum of the dog, and Kaschperl kept mum as a mouse 
when the mysterious sound, heard by no one else, came to him 
through the night. 

It was curiosity, but it was also a powder exerted by my friend, 
whose cool, reserved person, shy despite his haughtiness, was far 
from unattractive, that brought people out to visit him in his re- 
treat. I will give Schildknapp the precedence which he did actu- 
ally possess- of course he was the first to come, to see how Adrian 
did m the place they had found out together. After that, espe- 
cially in the summer-time, he often spent the week-end in Pfeif- 
fenng. Zink and Spengler came on their bicycles, for Adrian, on 
his shopping tours m town, had paid his respects to the Roddes 
in Rambergstrasse and the two painters had heard from the daugh- 
ters of Adrian’s return and his present address. Probably Spen- 
gler’s w-as the initiative in the visit, for Zink, more gifted and 
active as a painter than the other, but much less fine as a human 
bemg, had no instinctive sympathy for Adrian and was certainly 
only present as Spengler’s inseparable- flattering, in the Austrian 
manner, with kiss-the-hand and disingenuous “Marvellous, mar- 
vellous!” at everything he saw, wdule at bottom unfriendly. His 
clownishness, the farcical effects he could produce with his long 
nose and the close-lying eyes which had such an absurdly hyp- 
notic effect on women, made no play with Adrian, however grate- 
ful the latter always was for being amused. Vanity detracts from 
wit; the knavish Zink had a tiresome mania of attending to every 
word, to see whether he could not get a double entendre out 


2 59 

of it, and this, as he probably saw, did not precisely enchant 

Spengler, blinking, a dimple in his cheek, laughed, or bleated, 
heartily at such little contretemps. The sexual interested him in a 
literary sense, sex and esprit lying with him very close together 
— which in itself is not so far wrong. His culture — we know in- 
deed, his feeling for what was subtle, witty, discriminating - was 
founded on his accidental and unhappy relation to the sphere of 
sex, the physical fixation on it, which was sheer bad luck, and not 
further characteristic of his temperament or his sexuality. He 
smiled and prattled, in the language of that now vanished cultural 
and aesthetic epoch, about events in the world of artists and bib- 
liophiles; retailed Mumch gossip and dwelt very drolly on a story 
of how the Grand Duke of Weimar and the dramatic poet Rich- 
ard Voss, travelling together in the Abruzzi, were set upon by 
genuine bandits — of course engaged by Voss. To Adrian, Spen- 
gler made clever politenesses about the Brentano song cycle, 
which he had bought and studied at the piano. He delivered him- 
self at that time of the remark that occupation with these songs 
ended by spoiling one, quite definitely and almost dangerously. 
Afterwards one could hardly find pleasure in anything m that 
field. Said other quite good things about being spoiled, of which 
the needy artist himself was in the greatest danger, it seemed: it 
might be disastrous for him. For with every finished work he 
made life harder for himself, and in the end impossible. Spoilt by 
the extraordinary, his taste ruined for anything else, he must at 
last deteriorate through despair of executing the impossible. The 
problem for the highly gifted artist was how, despite his always 
increasing fastidiousness, his spreading disgust, he could still keep 
within the limits of the possible. 

Thus the witty Spengler — solely on the basis of his specific 
fixation, as his blinking and bleating showed. The next guests 
were Jeanette Scheurl and Rudi Schwerdtfeger, who came to tea 
to see how Adrian did. 

Jeanette and Schwerdtfeger sometimes played together, for the 
guests of old Mme Scheurl as well as privately, and they had 
planned the trip to Pfeiffering, and Rudi had done the telephon- 
ing. Whether he proposed it or whether it was Jeanette I do not 
know. They argued over it in Adrian’s presence and each put on 
the other the merit of the attention they paid him. Jeanette’s droll 
impulsiveness speaks for her initiative; on the other hand, it was 
very consistent with Rudi’s amazing familiarity. He seemed to be 
of opinion that two years ago he had been per du with Adrian, 



whereas after all that had only been in carnival time, and even 
then entirely on Rudi’s side. Now he blithely took it up again and 
desisted, with entire unconcern, only when Adrian for the sec- 
ond or third time refused to respond. The unconcealed merri- 
ment of Fraulein Scheurl at this repulse of his devotion moved 
him not at all. No trace of confusion showed in his blue eyes, 
which could burrow with such penetrating naivete into the eyes 
of anyone who was making clever, learned, or cultured remarks. 
Even today I think of Schwerdtfeger and ask myself whether he 
actually understood how solitary Adrian was, thus how needy 
and exposed to temptation, whether he wanted to try his charms 
— to put it crudely, to get round him. Beyond a doubt he was 
born for conquest, but I should be afraid of doing him wrong 
were I to see him from this side alone. He was also a good fellow 
and an artist, and the fact that Adrian and he were later actually 
per dn and called each other by their first names I should like not 
to regard as a cheap triumph of Schwerdtfeger’s mama for pleas- 
ing people, but rather to refer it to his honestly recognizing the 
value of this extraordinary human being. I should like to think he 
was truly drawn to Adrian, and that his own feeling was the 
source of the unerring and staggering self-confidence which 
finally made conquest of coldness and melancholy. A fatal tri- 
umph! But I have fallen into my old, bad habit and got ahead of 
my story. 

In her broad-brimmed hat, with a thin veil stretched across her 
nose, Jeanette Scheurl played Mozart on the square piano in the 
Schweigestills’ peasant “big room,” and Rudi Schwerdtfeger whis- 
tled with such artistry that one laughed for sheer pleasure. I 
heard him later at the Roddes’ and Schlaginhaufens’, and got him 
to tell me how, as quite a little lad, before he had violin lessons, 
he had begun to develop this technique and never stopped whis- 
tling the music he heard, or practising what he learned. His per- 
formance was brilliant, professional, fit for any cabaret, almost 
more impressive than his violin-playing, he must have been or- 
ganically just right for it. The cantilena was wonderfully pleas- 
ing, more like a violin than a flute, the phrasing masterly, the little 
notes, staccato or legato, coming out with delicious precision, 
never or almost never faltering. In short, it was really capital, and 
not the least diverting thing about it was the combination of whis- 
tling ’prentice and serious artist which it presented. One involun- 
tarily smiled as one applauded; Schwerdtfeger himself laughed 
like a boy, wriggling his shoulder in his jacket and making his 
little grimace with the corner of his mouth. 

dr. faustus 261 

These, then, were Adrian’s first guests m Pfeiffering. And soon 
I came myself and on fine Sundays strolled at his side round the 
pond and up the Rohmbuhel. Only that one winter, after his re- 
turn from Italy, did I live at any distance from him, for at Easter 
1913 I had got my position at the Freising academy, our family’s 
Catholic connection being useful in this respect. I left Kaiser- 
saschern and settled with wife and child at the edge of the Isar, 
m this dignified city, seat of a bishopric for hundreds of years, 
where with the exception of some months during the war I have 
passed my own life in convenient touch with the capital and also 
with my friend, and shared, in love and solicitude, the stresses and 
the tragedy of his. 


Bassoonist Griepenkerl had done a good and grateful piece of 
work on the score of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Just about the first 
words Adrian said to me when we met concerned the all but 
flawless copy and his joy over it. He also showed me a letter that 
the man had written to him in the midst of his exacting labours, 
wherein he expressed with intelligence a sort of anxious enthusi- 
asm for the object of his pains. He could not, so he told its author, 
express how it took his breath away with its boldness, the novelty 
of its ideas. Not enough could he admire the fine subtlety of the 
workmanship, the versatile rhythms, the technique of instrumen- 
tation, by which an often considerable complication of parts was 
made perfectly clear, above all, the rich fantasy of the composi- 
tion, showing itself in the manifold variations of a given theme. 
He instanced the beautiful and withal half-humorous music that 
belongs to the figure of Rosaline, or rather expresses Biron’s des- 
perate feeling for her, m the middle part of the tripartite bourse 
m the last act, this witty revival of the old French dance, it must, 
he said, be characterized as brilliant and deft in the highest sense 
of the words. He added that this bourree was not a little charac- 
teristic of the demode archaic element of social conventionality 
which so charmingly but also so challengmgly contrasted with 
the “modem,” the free and more than free, the rebel parts, dis- 
daining tonal connection, of the work. He feared indeed that these 
parts of the score, in all their unfamilianty and rebellious heresy, 
would be better received than the strict and traditional. Here it 
often amounted to a rigidity, a more academic than artistic specu- 
lation in notes, a mosaic scarcely any longer effective musically, 
seeming rather more to be read than to be heard — and so on. 

We laughed. 

“When I hear of hearing!” said Adrian. “In my view it is quite 
enough if something has been heard once; I mean when the artist 
thought it out.” 

After a while he added: “As though people ever heard what 
had been heard then! Composing means to commission the Za- 



pfenstosser orchestra to execute an angelic chorus. And anyhow 
I consider angelic choruses to be highly speculative.” 

For my part I thought Gnepenkerl was wrong in his sharp dis- 
tinction between archaic and modern elements in the work. “They 
blend into and interpenetrate,” I said, and he accepted the state- 
ment but showed little inclination to go into what was fixed and 
finished, prefernng apparently to put it behind him as not fur- 
ther interesting. Speculations about what to do with it, where to 
send it, to whom to show it, he left to me. That Wendell Kretsch- 
mar should have it to read was the important thing to him. He 
sent it to Lubeck, where the stutterer still was, and the latter ac- 
tually produced it there, in a German version, a year later, after 
war had broken out — I was not present — with the result that 
during the performance two thirds of the audience left - the the- 
atre. Just as it is supposed to have happened six years before at 
the Munich premiere of Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande. There 
were only two more performances of Adrian’s opera, and it was 
not, for the time, to penetrate beyond the Hansa city on the 
Trave. The local critics agreed to a man with the judgment of 
the lay audience and jeered at the “decimating” music which Herr 
Kretschmar had taken up with. Only in the Lubeck Borsenkuner 
an old music-professor named Immerthal — doubtless dead long 
since — spoke of an error of justice which time would put right, 
and declared in crabbed, old-fashioned language that the opera 
was a work of the future, full of profound music, that the writer 
was of course a mocker but a “god-witted man.” This striking ex- 
pression, which I had never before heard or read, nor ever since, 
made a peculiar impression on me. And as I have never forgotten 
it or the knowledgeable old codger who coined it, I think it must 
be counted to his honour by the posterity he invoked as witness 
against his spineless and torpid fellow-critics. 

At the tame when I moved to Freising, Adrian was busy with 
the composition of some songs and lieder, German and foreign, 
or rather, English. In the first place he had gone back to William 
Blake and set to music a very strange poem of this favourite au- 
thor of his. “Silent, Silent Night,” in four stanzas of three lines 
each, the last stanza of which dismayingly enough runs: 

But an honest joy 
Does itself destroy 
For a harlot coy. 

These darkly shocking verses the composer had set to very 
simple harmonies, which in relation to the tone-language of the 



whole had a “falser,” more heart-rent, uncanny effect than the 
most daring harmonic tensions, and made one actually experience 
the common chord growing monstrous. “Silent, Silent Night” is 
arranged for piano and voice. He set two poems by Keats, “Ode 
to a Nightingale” and the shorter “Ode on Melancholy” with a 
string-quartet accompaniment, which indeed left far behind and 
below it the traditional conception of an accompaniment. For in 
fact it was an extremely artificial form of variation in which no 
note of the singing voice and the four instruments was unthe- 
made. There reigns here without interruption the closest relation 
between the parts so that the relation is not that of melody and 
accompaniment, but in all strictness that of constantly alternating 
primary and secondary parts. 

They are glorious pieces — and almost unsung up till today, 
owing to the language they are in. Odd enough to make me smile 
was the expressiveness with which the composer enlarges in the 
“Nightingale” on the demand for southern sweetness of life which 
the song of the “immortal Bird” rouses in -the soul of the poet. 
For, after all, Adrian in Italy had never displayed much gratitude 
or enthusiasm about the consolations of a sunny world, which 
make one forget “the weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, 
where men sit and hear each other groan.” Musically the most 
priceless, the most perfect, beyond doubt, is the resolution and 
dissipation of the vision at the end, the 

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 

As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. 

Adieu! adieu 1 thy plaintive anthem fades 

Fled is that music* — do I wake or sleep? 

I can well understand how the beauty of the poems, like that of 
an antique vase, challenged the music to crown them; not to make 
them completer, for they are complete, but to articulate more 
strongly and to throw into relief their proud and melancholy 
charm; to lend more lastingness to the priceless moment of their 
every detail than is granted to the breathed-out words; to such 
moments of condensed imagery as in the third stanza of the “Ode 
on Melancholy,” the image of the “sovran shrine” which veiled 
Melancholy has in the temple of delight, though seen of none 
save him whose strenuous tongue can burst Joy’s grape against his 
palate fine — all that is so brilliant that it scarcely leaves the music 
anything to say. It may be that it can only injure it, unless by 
simply speaking with it, and so lingering it out. I have often heard 



say that a poem must not be too good to furnish a good lied. Mu- 
sic is at home in the task of gilding the mediocre. Just as real 
virtuosity in an actor shows up more brilliantly in a poor piece. 
But Adrian’s relation to art was too proud and critical for him to 
wish to let his light shine in darkness. He had to look very high, 
intellectually, where he was to feel himself called as musician, Mid 
so the German poem to which he gave himself productively is 
also of the highest rank if without the intellectual distinction of 
the Keats lyrics. In place of literary exquisiteness we have some- 
thing more monumental, the high-pitched, sounding pathos of the 
religious hymn, which with its invocations and depictions of maj- 
esty and mildness yields even more to the music, is more faith- 
fully compliant with it than are those British images with their 
Greek nobility. 

It was Klopstock’s Spring Festival, the famous song of the 
“Drop to the Bucket,” which Leverkuhn, with but few textual 
abbreviations, had composed for baritone, organ, and string or- 
chestra — a thrilling piece of work, which was performed, through 
the efforts of some courageous conductors friendly to the new 
music, during the first World War and some years after it in sev- 
eral German music-centres and also in Switzerland. It received 
the enthusiastic approval of a minority and of course some spite- 
ful and stupid opposition too. These performances contributed 
very much to the fact that at latest in the twenties an aura of 
esotenc fame began to unfold about the name of my friend. But 
this much I will say: deeply as I was moved — yet not really sur- 
prised — by this outburst of religious feeling, which was the purer 
and more pious for the restraint and absence of cheap effects, no 
harp-twanging (though the text is actually a challenge to it), no 
drum to give back the thunder of the Lord; however much went 
to my heart certain beauties not at all achieved by hackneyed 
tone-painting: the magnificent truths of the psean; the oppres- 
sively slow movement of the black cloud; the twice-repeated 
thundering “Jehovah!” when “the shattered wood steams” (a 
powerful passage); the so new and enlightened concord of the 
high register of the organ with the strings at the end, when the 
Deity comes, no longer in storm, but in hushed murmurings and 
beneath it “arches the bow of peace”; yet despite all these I have 
never understood the work in its real spiritual sense, its inward 
necessity, its purpose, informed by fear, of seeking grace in praise. 
Did I at that time know the document, which my readers now 
know too, the record of the “dialogue” in the stone-floored sala? 
Only conditionally could I have named myself before that “a 



2 66 

partner in your sorrow’s mysteries,” as it says in the “Ode on 
Melancholy”; only with the right of a general concern since our 
boyhood days for his soul’s health; but not through actual knowl- 
edge, as it then stood. Only later did I learn to understand the 
composition of the Spring Festival as what it was: a plea to God, 
an atonement for sin, a work of attntio cordis, composed, as I 
realized with shudders, under the threat of that visitor insisting 
that he was really visible 

But in still another sense did I fail to understand the personal 
and intellectual background of this production based on Klop- 
stock’s poem. For I did not, as I should have done, connect it with 
conversations I had with him at this time, or rather he had with 
me, when he gave me, quite circumstantially, with great anima- 
tion, accounts of studies and researches m fields very remote from 
my curiosity or my scientific comprehension: thrilling enrich- 
ments, that is, of his knowledge of nature and the cosmos. And 
now he strongly reminded me of the elder Leverkuhn’s musing 
mania for “speculating the elements.” 

Indeed, the composer of this setting for the Sprmg Festival did 
not conform to the poet’s words that he “would not fling himself 
in the ocean of the worlds”, that only about the drop in the 
bucket, about the earth, would he hover and adore. For Adrian 
did fling himself into the immense, which astro-physical science 
seeks to measure, only to arrive at measures, figures, orders of 
greatness with which the human spirit has no longer any relation, 
and which lose themselves in the theoretic and abstract, in the en- 
tirely non-sensory, not to say non-sensical. Moreover I will not 
forget that it all began with a dwelling on the “drop,” which does 
not ill deserve this name, as it consists mainly of water, the water 
of the oceans, which on the occasion of the creation “also ran out 
from the hand of the Almighty.” On it, at first, we dwelt, and its 
dark secrets; for the wonders of the depths of the sea, the ex- 
travagant living things down there where no sun’s ray penetrates, 
were the first matters of which Adrian told me, and indeed in 
such a strange and startling way that I was both entertained and 
bewildered, for he spoke as though he had personally seen and ex- 
perienced it all. 

Of course he had only read of these things, had got books about 
them and fed his fancy. But whether he had so concentrated on 
them, had so mastered these pictures mentally, or out of whatever 
whim it was, he pretended that in the region of the Bermudas, 
some nautical miles east of St. George, he had himself gone down 
into the sea and been shown by his companion the natural phe- 



nomena of the deeps. He spoke of this companion as an American 
scholar named Akercocke, in company with whom he was sup- 
posed to have set up a new deep-sea record. 

I remember this conversation most vividly. It occurred at a 
week-end I was spending in Pfeiffering, after the simple meal 
served us in the big piano-room, when the primly clad young 
Clementine had kindly brought us each our half-litre mug of beer, 
and we sat smoking Zechbauer cigars, light and good. It was 
about the hour when Suso, the yard dog, in other words Kasch- 
perl, was loosed from his chain and allowed to range the court- 

Then Adrian embarked with gusto on his jest, which he related 
to me in the most circumstantial manner how he and Professor 
Akercocke climbed into a bullet-shaped diving-bell of only one 
point two metres inside diameter, equipped somewhat like a 
stratosphere balloon, and were dropped by a crane from the com- 
panion ship into the sea, at this point very deep. It had been more 
than exciting — at least for him, if not for his mentor or cicerone, 
from whom he had procured this experience and who took the 
thing more coolly as it was not his first descent. Their situation 
inside the two-ton hollow ball was anything but comfortable, but 
was compensated for by the knowledge of their perfect safety, 
absolutely watertight as it was, capable of withstanding immense 
pressure. It was provided with a supply of oxygen, a telephone, 
high-voltage searchlights, and quartz windows all round. Some- 
what longer than three hours in all they spent beneath the surface 
of the ocean; it had passed like a dream, thanks to the sights they 
were vouchsafed, the glimpses into a world whose soundless, 
frantic foreignness was explained and even justified by its utter 
lack of contact with our own. 

Even so it had been a strange moment, and his heart had missed 
a beat, when one morning at nine o’clock the four-hundred- 
pound armoured door had closed behind them and they swayed 
away from the ship and plunged into the water, crystal-clear at 
first, lighted by the sun. But this illumination of the inside of our 
“drop in the bucket” reached down only some fifty-seven metres- 
For at that depth light has come to an end; or rather, a new, un- 
known, irrelevant world here begins, into which Adrian with his 
guide went down to nearly fourteen times that depth, some 
thirty-six hundred feet, and there remained for half an hour, al- 
most every moment painfully, aware that a pressure of five hun- 
dred thousand tons rested upon their shelter. 

Gradually, on the way down, the water had taken on a grey 



colour, that of a darkness mixed with some still undaunted rays 
of light. Not easily did these become discouraged; it was the will 
and way of them to make light and they did so to their uttermost, 
so that the next stage of light’s exhaustion and retreat actually had 
more colour than the previous one. Through the quartz win- 
dows the travellers looked into a blue-blackness hard to describe; 
perhaps best compared to the dull colour of the horizon on a clear 
thawing day. After that, indeed long before the hand of the in- 
dicator stood at seven hundred and fifty to seven hundred and 
sixty-five metres, came solid blackness all round, the blackness of 
interstellar space whither for eternities no weakest sun-ray had 
penetrated, the eternally still and virgin night, which now had to 
put up with a powerful artificial light from the upper world, not 
of cosmic origin, in order to be looked at and looked through. 

Adrian spoke of the itch one felt to expose the unexposed, to 
look at the unlooked-at, the not-to-be and not-expecting-to-be 
looked-at. There was a feeling of indiscretion, even of guilt, 
bound up with it, not quite allayed by the feeling that science 
must be allowed to press just as far forwards as it is given the in- 
telligence of scientists to go. The incredible eccentricities, some 
grisly, some comic, which nature here achieved, forms and fea- 
tures which seemed to have scarcely any connection with the 
upper world but rather to belong to another planet: these were 
the product of seclusion, sequestration, of reliance on being 
wrapped in eternal darkness. The arrival upon Mars of a human 
conveyance travelling through space — or rather, let us say, upon 
that half of Mercury which is eternally turned away from the sun 
— could excite no greater sensation in the inhabitants — if any — 
of that “near” planet, than the appearance of the Akercocke div- 
ing-bell down here. The mass curiosity with which these incon- 
ceivable creatures of the depths had crowded round the cabin had 
been indescribable — and quite indescribable too was everything 
that went whisking past the windows in a blur of motion: frantic 
caricatures of organic life; predatory mouths opening and shut- 
ting; obscene jaws, telescope eyes; the paper nautilus; silver- and 
gold-fish with goggling eyes on top of their heads; heteropods 
and pteropods, up to two or three yards long. Even those that 
floated passively in the flood, monsters compact of slime, yet with 
arms to catch their prey, polyps, acalephs, skyphomedusas — they 
all seemed to have been seized by spasms of twitching excitement. 

It might well be that all these natives of the deep regarded this 
light-radiating guest as an outsize variation of themselves, for most 
of them could do what it could; that is to say, give out light by 



their own power. The visitors, Adrian said, had only to put out 
their own searchlight, when an extraordinary spectacle unfolded 
outside. Far and wide the darkness of the sea was illuminated by 
shooting and circling will-o’-the-wisps, caused by the light with 
which many of the creatures were equipped, so that in some cases 
the entire body was phosphorescent, while others had a search- 
light, an electric lantern, with which presumably they not only 
lighted the darkness of their path, but also attracted their prey. 
They also probably used it m courtship. The ray from some of 
the larger ones cast such an intense white light that the observers’ 
eyes were blinded. Others had eyeballs projecting on stalks; 
probably in order to perceive at the greatest possible distance the 
faintest gleam of light meant to lure or warn. 

The narrator regretted that it was not possible to catch any of 
these monsters of the deep, at least some of the utterly unknown 
ones, and bring them to the surface. In order to do so, however, 
one would have to preserve for them while ascending the same 
tremendous atmospheric pressure they were used to and adapted 
to in their environment — the same that rested on our diving-bell 
— a disturbing thought. In their habitat the creatures counteracted 
it by an equal pressure of their tissues and cavities; so that if the 
outside pressure were decreased, they would inevitably burst. 
Some of them, alas, burst now, on coming into contact with the 
diving-bell: the watchers saw an unusually large, flesh-coloured 
wight, rather finely formed, just touch the vessel and fly into a 
thousand pieces. 

Thus Adrian told his tale, as we smoked our cigars; quite as 
though he had himself been present and had all these things shown 
to him. He carried out the jest so well, with only half a smile, that 
I could but stare amazed even while I laughed and marvelled at 
his tale. His smile also probably expressed a teasing amusement at 
a certain resistance on my side, which must have been obvious to 
him, for he well knew my lack of interest, even amounting to dis- 
taste, for the tricks and mysteries of the natural, for “nature” al- 
together, and my allegiance to the sphere of the human and ar- 
ticulate. Obviously this knowledge of his was in large part what 
led him to go on with his reports or, as he put it, his experiences 
of the monstrously extra-human; plunging, carrying me along 
with him, “in den Ozean der Welten alle. n 

The transition was made easy for him by his previous descrip- 
tions. The alien, fantastic nature of the deep-sea life, which seemed 
no longer to belong to the same planet with us, was a point of de- 
parture. Another was the Klopstock phrase “The Drop to the 



Bucket”* how well its admiring humility described our own quite 
secondary position in the cosmos! This on account of our utter 
insignificance to any larger view; the almost undiscoverable situ- 
ation not only of the earth but of our whole planetary system, the 
sun with its seven satellites, within the vortex of the Milky Way, 
to which it belongs — “our” Milky Way, to say nothing of the 
millions of other ones. The word “our” lends a certain intimacy 
to the vastness to which it refers, it takes the feeling of “home” 
and almost comically magnifies it into breath-takmgly extended 
space, wherein then we are to consider ourselves as established if 
humble citizens. And here the tendency of nature to the spheri- 
cal seems to be carried through, this was a third point to which 
Adrian linked his discourse on the cosmos; arriving at it partly 
through the strange experience of the sojourn in the hollow ball, 
the Akercocke diving-bell in which he purported to have spent 
some hours. In a hollow ball, so he was instructed, we all and 
sundry passed our days, for in the galactic system wherein we 
occupied an infinitesimal point somewhere at one side, the situa- 
tion was as follows. 

It was shaped more or less like a flat watch; round, and much 
less thick than its circumferance. an aggregation not literally im- 
measurable but still truly vast, a whirling disk of concentrated 
hosts of stars and star systems, star clusters, double stars, which 
described elliptical orbits about each other; of gas clouds, nebulae, 
planetary nebulae, stellar nebulae, and so on. But this disk was only 
comparable to the flat round surface which results when one cuts 
an orange in half; for it was enclosed all round by a vapour of 
other stars, which again could not strictly speaking be called im- 
measurable, but as raised to a very high power of vastness and in 
whose spaces, mostly empty spaces, the given objects were so dis- 
tributed that the whole structure formed a ball. Somewhere deep 
within this absurdly sparsely settled ball, belonging, in a very 
miner category, scarcely worth mention and not even easy to 
find, to the disk or condensed swarm of worlds, was the fixed star 
about which, along with its greater and smaller companions, 
sported the earth and its little moon. “The sun” — a body little 
deserving of the definite article — a gas ball registering six thou- 
sand degrees of heat on its surface, and a mere million and a half 
kilometres in diameter, was as far distant from the centre of the 
galactic inner plane as that was thick through — in other words* 
thirty thousand light-years. 

My general information permitted me to associate a concept, 
however imprecise, with the words “light-year.” It was, of course, 



a spatial concept and the word meant the span that light puts be- 
hind it in the course of a whole earth-year, at a speed peculiar 
to it, of which I had a vague idea but Adrian had in his head the 
exact figure of 186,000 miles per second. So a light-year amounted 
to a round and net figure of six trillion miles, and the eccentricity 
of our solar system amounted to thirty thousand times as much, 
while the whole diameter of the galactic hollow ball came to two 
hundred thousand light-years. 

No, it was not immeasurable, but it was in this way that it was 
to be measured. What is one to say to such an assault upon the 
human understanding 5 I confess to being so made that nothing 
but a resigned if also somewhat contemptuous shoulder-shrug re- 
mains to me m face of such ungraspable, such stunning statistics. 
Enthusiasm for size, being overwhelmed by size — that is no doubt 
a mental pleasure; but it is only possible in connections which a 
human being can grasp. The Pyramids are large, Mont Blanc and 
the inside of the dome of St. Peter’s are large, unless one prefer to 
reserve this attribute of largeness to the mental and moral world, 
the nobility of the heart and of thought. The data of the cosmic 
creation are nothing but a deafening bombardment of our intel- 
ligence with figures furnished with a comet’s tail of a couple of 
dozen ciphers, and comporting themselves as though they still had 
somethmg, anything, to do with measurement and understanding. 
There is in all this monstrousness nothing that could appeal to the 
likes of me as goodness, beauty, greatness; and I shall never un- 
derstand the glory-to-God mental attitude which certain tem- 
peraments assume when they contemplate the “works of God,” 
meaning by the phrase the physics of the universe. And is a con- 
struction to be hailed as “the works of God” when one may just 
as reasonably say: “Well, what then 5 ” instead of “Glory to the 
Lord” 5 The first rather than the second seems to me the right an- 
swer to two dozen ciphers after a one or even after a seven, which 
really adds nothing to it; and I can see no sort of reason to fall in 
the dust and adore the fifth power of a million. 

It was also a telling fact that Klopstock in his soaring poesy ex- 
pressing and arousing a fervid reverence confines himself to the 
earth — the drop in the bucket — and leaves the quintillions alone. 
My friend Adrian, the composer of Klopstock’s hymns, does, as 
I say, dwell on this aspect; but I should do wrong to arouse the 
impression that he does so with any sort of emotion or emphasis. 
Adrian’s way of dealing with these insanities was cold, indifferent, 
coloured by amusement at my unconcealed distaste. But also it 
displayed a certain initiated familiarity, a persistence, I mean, in 



the fiction that he had derived his knowledge not simply through 
reading, but rather by personal transmission, instruction, demon- 
stration, experience, perhaps from his above-mentioned mentor, 
Professor Akercocke, who it appeared had been with him not 
only down in the darkness of the ocean deeps, but also up among 
the stars. ... He behaved in a way as though he had got it from 
his mentor, and indeed more or less through actual observation, 
that the physical universe — this word m its widest and furthest 
connotation — should be called neither finite nor infinite, because 
both words described something somehow static, whereas the true 
situation was through and through dynamic in its nature, and the 
cosmos, at least for a long time, more precisely for nineteen hun- 
dred million years, has been in a state of furious expansion— that 
is, of explosion. Of this we were left in no doubt, due to the red- 
shift of the light which reaches us from numerous milky-way 
systems at a known distance from us: the stronger alteration of 
colour of this light toward the red end of the spectrum is in pro- 
portion to the greater distance from us of these nebulae. Obvi- 
ously they were moving away from us; and with the farthest 
ones, complexes one hundred and fifty million light-years away, 
the speed with which they moved was like that which the alpha 
particles of radioactive substance developed, amounting to twenty- 
five thousand kilometres a second, a rate of speed compared with 
which the splintering of a bursting shell was at a snail’s pace. If 
then all the galaxies were to rush away from each other in the 
most exaggerated space of time, then the word “explosion” would 
just be — or rather had not for a long time been — adequate to 
describe the state of the world-pattern and its way of expansion. 
It might once have been static, earlier, and been simply a milliard 
light-years in diameter. As things were now, one could speak in- 
deed of expansion, but not of any constant expansion, “finite” or 
“infinite.” It seemed that his guide had been able to assure the 
questioner only of the fact that the sum of the collective existing 
galaxies was in the order of size of a hundred milliards, of which 
only a modest million were accessible to our telescopes. 

Thus Adrian, smoking and smiling. I appealed to his conscience 
and demanded from him an admission that this spooking about 
with statistics forever escaping into the void could not possibly 
stir one to a feeling of the majesty of God or give rise to any 
moral elevation. It all looked very much more like devil’s juggling. 

“Admit,” said I to him, “that the horrendous physical creation 
is in no way religiously productive. What reverence and what 
civilizing process bom of reverence can come from the picture of 



a vast impropriety like this of the exploding universe? Absolutely 
none. Piety, reverence, intellectual decency, religious feeling, are 
only possible about men and through men, and by limitation to 
the earthly and human. Their fruit should, can, and will be a re- 
ligiously tinged humanism, conditioned by feeling for the tran- 
scendental mystery of man, by the proud consciousness that he is 
no mere biological being, but with a decisive part of him belongs 
to an intellectual and spiritual world, that to him the Absolute is 
given, the ideas of truth, of freedom, of justice; that upon him the 
duty is laid to approach the consummate. In this pathos, this ob- 
ligation, this reverence of man for himself, is God; in a hundred 
milliards of Milky Ways I cannot find him.” 

“So you are against the works,” he answered, “and against 
physical nature, from which man comes and with him his incor- 
poreal part, which in the end does occur in other places in the 
cosmos. Physical creation, this monstrosity of a world set-up, so 
annoying to you, is incontestably the premise for the moral, with- 
out which it would have no soil, and perhaps one must call the 
good the flower of evil — me fleur du mal. But your homo Dei 
is after all — or not after all, I beg pardon, I mean before all — a 
part of this abominable nature — with a not very generous quan- 
tum of potential spirituality. Moreover it is amusing to see how 
much your humanism, and probably all humanism, inclines to the 
mediaeval geocentric — as it obviously must. In the popular belief, 
humanism is friendly to science; but it cannot be, for one cannot 
consider the subjects of science to be devil’s work without seeing 
the same in science itself. That is Middle Ages. The Middle Ages 
were geocentric and anthropocentric. The Church, in which they 
survived, has set itself to oppose astronomical knowledge in the 
humanistic spirit; bedevilled and forbidden it to the honour of the 
human being; out of humanity has insisted on ignorance. You see, 
your humanism is pure Middle Ages. Its concern is a cosmology 
proper to Kaisersaschem and its towers: it leads to astrology, to 
observation of the position of the planets, the constellation and 
its favourable or unfavourable indications — quite naturally and 
rightly, for nothing is clearer than the intimate interdependence 
of the bodies of a cosmic little group so closely bound together 
as our solar system, and their near neighbourly mutual reference.” 

“We have already talked about astrological conjuncture,” I 
broke in. “It was long ago, we were walking round the Cow 
Pond, and it was a musical conversation. At that time you de- 
fended the constellation.” 

“I still defend it today,” he answered. “Astrological times knew 



a lot. They knew, or divined, things which science in its broadest 
scope is coming back to. That diseases, plagues, epidemics have 
to do with the position of the stars was to those times an intuitive 
certainty. Today we have got so far as to debate whether germs, 
bacteria, organisms which, we say, can produce an influenza epi- 
demic on earth come from other planets — Mars, Jupiter, or 

Contagious diseases, plague, black death, were probably not of 
this planet, as, almost certainly indeed, life itself has not its origin 
on our globe, but came hither from outside. He, Adrian, had it on 
the best authority that it came from neighbouring stars which are 
enveloped in an atmosphere more favourable to it, containing 
much methane and ammonia, like Jupiter, Mars, and Venus. From 
them, or from one of them — he left me the choice — life had 
once, borne by cosmic projectiles or simply by radiation pressure, 
arrived upon our formerly sterile and innocent planet. My hu- 
manistic homo Dei , that crowmng achievement of life, was to- 
gether with his obligations to the spiritual in all probability the 
product of the marsh-gas fertility of a neighbouring star. 

“The flower of evil,” I repeated, nodding. 

“And blooming mostly in mischief,” he added. 

Thus he taunted me, not only with my kindly view of the 
world, but also by persisting in the whimsical pretence of a per- 
sonal, direct, and special knowledge about the affairs of heaven 
and earth. I did not know, but I might have been able to tell my- 
self, that all this meant something, meant a new work: namely, 
the cosmic music which he had in his mind, after the episode 
of the new songs. It was the amazing symphony in one movement, 
the orchestral fantasy that he was working out during the last 
months of 1913 and the first of 1914, and which very much 
against my expressed wish bore the title Marvels of the Universe . 
I was mistrustful of the flippancy of that name and suggested the 
title Symphonia cosmologica . But Adrian insisted, laughing, on 
the other, mock-pathetic, ironic name, which certainly better pre- 
pared the knowing for the out-and-out bizarre and unpleasant 
character of the work, even though often these images of the 
monstrous and uncanny were grotesque in a solemn, formal, 
mathematical way. This music has simply nothing in common 
with the spirit of the Spring Celebration , which after all was in a 
certain way the preparation for it* I mean with the spirit of hum- 
ble glorification. If certain musical features of the writing peculiar 
to Adrian had not indicated the author, one could scarcely be- 
lieve that the same mind brought forth both. Nature and essence 


2 75 

of that nearly thirty-minutes-long orchestral world-portrait is 
mockery, a mockery which all too well confirms my opinion ex- 
pressed m conversation, that preoccupation with the immeasurable 
extra-human affords nothing for piety to feed on: a lucifenan sar- 
donic mood, a sneering travesty of praise which seems to apply 
not only to the frightful clockwork of the world-structure but al- 
so to the medium used to describe it: yes, repeatedly with music 
itself, the cosmos of sound. The piece has contributed not a little 
to the reproach levelled at the art of my friend, as a virtuosity an- 
tipathetic to the artist mind, a blasphemy, a nihilistic sacrilege. 

But enough on this theme. The next two chapters I mean to 
devote to some social experiences which I shared with Adrian 
Leverkuhn at the turn of the year 1913—14, during the last Munich 
carnival before the outbreak of the war. 


I have already said that the lodger at the Schweigestills’ did not 
quite bury himself m his cloistral solitude, guarded by Kaschperl- 
Suso. Though sporadically and with reserve, he cultivated a 
certain social life. Even so, he seemed to cling to the soothing ne- 
cessity of an early leave-taking and fixed departure by the eleven- 
o’clock train. We met at the Roddes’ in Rambergstrasse, with 
whose circle — Schwerdtfeger the fiddler and whistler, the Kno- 
terichs. Dr. Kranich, Zink and Spengler— I had got on a friendly 
footing; further at the Schlaginhaufens’, also at the home of Rad- 
bruch, Schildknapp’s publisher, in Furstenstrasse, and in the ele- 
gant bel etage of the Rhineland paper-manufacturer Bullinger, 
where also Rudiger introduced us. 

At the Roddes’, as well as in the pillared Schlaginhaufen salon, 
they enjoyed my viola d’amore, and in any case it was the only 
contribution that I, a scholar and schoolmaster, never very lively 
in conversation, could make to this society. In the Ramberg- 
strasse it was particularly the asthmatic Dr. Kranich and Baptist 
Spengler who kept me to it: the one out of his antiquarian inter- 
ests (he liked to talk with me, in his clearly articulated, well-ar- 
ranged sentences about numismatics and about the historical 
development of the viola family), the other out of a general taste 
for the out-of-the-way and even the decadent. Still I had in that 
house to have regard for Konrad Knoterich’s craving to make 
himself heard playing cello and snorting the while. And the little 
audience had a justified preference for Schwerdtfeger’s captivat- 
ing violin-playing. So much the more did it flatter my vanity (I 
deny it not) mat there was a lively demand from the much larger 
and more elevated public which the ambition of Frau Dr, Schla- 
ginhaufen, nee von Plausig, knew how to gather round her and 
her hard-of-hearing, Suabian-speaking husband. I had always cul- 
tivated my music merely as an amateur; but I was almost always 
obliged to bring my instrument with me to the Briennerstrasse, to 
regale the company with a chaconne or sarabande from the seven- 
teenth century, a “flaisir d? amour' from the eighteenth, or to per- 



form a sonata by Ariosti, the friend of Handel, or one of Haydn’s 
written for the viola di bordone but quite possible for the viola 
d’amore as well. 

Not only from Jeanette Scheurl did suggestions like the last 
proceed, but also from the General-Intendant, Excellency von 
Riedesel, whose patronage of the old instrument and old music 
did not indeed, as with Kranich, stem from scholarly or antiquar- 
ian interest, but was purely conservative in its origin, a great dif- 
ference of course. This courtier, a former cavalry colonel, who 
had been appointed to his present post simply and solely because 
it had been well known that he played piano a little (how many 
centuries ago it seems, that one could become a General-Intendant 
solely because one was “noble” and played the piano a little!), 
Baron Riedesel, then, saw in everything old and historic a bul- 
wark against the new and subversive, a sort of feudal argument 
against it, and supported it in this sense, without in fact under- 
standing anything about it. For just as little as one understands the 
new and the young, without being at home in the traditional, 
just so must love for the old remain ungenuine and sterile if one 
shut oneself away from the new, which with historical inevita- 
bility grows out of it. Thus Riedesel esteemed and protected the 
ballet, and forsooth because it was “graceful.” The word meant 
to him a shibboleth, a conservative arguing-point against the mod- 
em and insurrectionary. Of the traditional world of the Russian 
and French ballets, represented by a Tchaikovsky, a Ravel, a Stra- 
vinsky, he had no notion; ideas about the classical ballet such as 
those which the last-named Russian master later enunciated were 
remote from his mind: ballet as a triumph of plan and measure 
over unstable feeling, of order over chance, as a pattern of con- 
scious, apolline activity, a paradigm for art. What hovered before 
his mind’s eye were simply gauze petticoats, toe-pointing, trip- 
ping, and arms bent “gracefully” over heads, under the eyes of a 
court society asserting the “ideal,” reprobating the hateful prob- 
lematical, these sitting in their loges, while a well-trained bour- 
geoisie filled the parterre. 

Well, there was much Wagner played at the Schlaginhaufens’, 
since the dramatic soprano Tania Orlanda, tremendous woman, 
and the heroic Harald Kioeielund, a man already stout, with a 
pince-nez and brazen voice, were frequent guests. But without 
Wagner’s work, loud and violent as it was, Herr Riedesel and his 
Hoftheater could not have existed, so it was received, more or less, 
into the kingdom of the feudal and “graceful” and respect was 
paid it, the more readily because there were already newer works 



which went still further, so that one could reject them, and play- 
off Wagner against them as a conservative. Thus His Excellence 
hims elf could flatter the singers by playing their accompaniments 
on the piano, although his pianistic virtuosity was scarcely equal 
to the task and more than once compromised the effect. I did not 
care for it when Kammersanger Kioeielund brayed out Sieg- 
fried’s pretty dull and long-winded smith’s songs so that all the 
vases and glass-ware in the salon rattled and rang in sympathy. 
But I confess that I am not proof against such a heroic female 
voice as the Orlanda’s was at that time. The weight of her per- 
sonality, the power of her organ, her practised technique pro- 
duced the convincing illusion of a regal female soul possessed by 
lofty emotion. When she sang Isolde’s “Frau Minne kenntest du 
nicht ,’ and marked by an energetic downward thrust of her arms 
the ecstatic “Die Fackel, war’s meines Lebens Licht lachend sie 
zu loschen zagt ’ ich nicht” it did not lack much for me, with 
tears in my eyes, to have knelt before the singer as she stood tri- 
umphantly smiling, overwhelmed with applause. Moreover it was 
Adrian who had accompanied her, and he too smiled when he 
rose from the piano-stool and his eyes dwelt on my face, moved 
as it was almost to weeping. 

It does one good, among such impressive performances, to con- 
tribute something oneself to the artistic entertainment, and I was 
gratified when Excellence von Riedesel, seconded at once by our 
long-legged elegant hostess, urged me in his south-German pro- 
nunciation, and voice made more strident by his officer’s training, 
to repeat the andante and minuet of Milandre (1770) which I 
had once before played on my seven strings. How weak is man! 

I was grateful to him, I utterly forgot my dislike of his smooth 
and empty aristocrat’s face, which out of sheer imperturbable 
insolence positively shone; with the twisted blond moustaches, 
the smooth-shaven cheeks, and the gleaming monocle in the eye 
under the bleached brows. To Adrian, as well I knew, this titled 
gentleman was a figure beyond judgment or sentence, beyond 
hatred or scorn, yes, beyond laughter; he was not worth a shoul- 
der-shrug — and just so, actually, I felt myself. But at such a mo- 
ment, when he challenged me to contribute something “graceful,” 
that the company might recover from the attack of the revolu- 
tionary arriviste, I could not help acceding to his request. 

It was very strange, partly painful and partly comic, to observe 
Riedesel’s conservatism in contact with another brand of the same 
thing. Here it was a matter not so much of “still” as “again”; for 
this was an after- and anti-revolutionary conservatism, a revolt 


2 79 

against bourgeois liberal standards from the other end, not from 
rear but from the front; not from the old but from the new. 
Such a contact was encouraging as well as bewildering to the 
simple old conservatism, and occasion for it was afforded m our 
day, even m the Schlaginhaufen salon, where the social ambi- 
tions of the hostess brought people of every stripe together. For 
example, one of the guests was the private scholar Dr. Chaim 
Breisacher, a racial and intellectual type in high, one might al- 
most say reckless development and of a fascinating ug lin ess. Here, 
obviously with a certain malicious pleasure, he played the role 
of ferment and foreigner. The hostess approved his dialectic 
readiness, produced with a decided Palatinate accent; also his 
turn for paradox, which made the ladies clap their hands over 
their heads in demure jubilation. As for himself, it was probably 
snobbishness that made him take pleasure in this society, as well 
as the need of astonishing elegant simplicity with ideas which, 
in a literary circle, would have made less of a sensation. I did not 
like him in the least, always saw in him an intellectual intrigant, 
and was convinced that he was repugnant to Adrian as well, al- 
though, on grounds to me unclear, we never came to any detailed 
conversation about Breisacher. But the man’s scent for the intel- 
lectual weather of the time, his nose for the newest views, I have 
never denied, and some of all that I met for the first time in his 
person and his conversation in society. 

He was a polyhistor, who knew how to talk about anything 
and everything; he was concerned with the philosophy of cul- 
ture, but his views were anti-cultural, in so far as he gave out to 
see in the whole history of culture nothing but a process of de- 
cline. The most contemptuous word on his kps was the word 
“progress”; he had an annihilating way of pronouncing it; and 
one felt that the conservative scorn which he devoted to the idea 
was regarded by himself as the true legitimation of his presence 
in this society, the mark of his fitness for it. He had wit, but of no 
very sympathetic kind; as when he poured scorn on the develop- 
ment of painting from the primitive fiat to the presentation of per- 
spective. To condemn as incapacity or ignorance, even as clumsy 
primitivism, the rejection of perspective eye-deception by pre- 
perspective art; even pityingly to shrug the shoulder over it: this 
he declared to be the peak of silly modem arrogance. Rejection, 
renunciation, disdain were not incapacity, nor umnstructedness, 
nor evidence of poverty. As though illusion were not the cheapest 
principle in art, the most suited to the mob; as though it were not 
simply a sign of elevated taste to wish to know nothing of it! The 

28 o 


gift of wanting to know nothing of certain things was very close 
to wisdom, was even a part of it; but it had unfortunately been 
lost, and ordinary, impudent know-nothings called themselves 

The guests of Frau Schlaginhaufen nee von Plausig somehow 
found themselves very much at home listening to these remarks. 
They may have felt that Breisacher was not quite the right person 
to make them, but scarcely that they might not be the right peo- 
ple to applaud them. 

It was the same thing, he said, with the change-over of music 
from monody to part-music, to harmony, which people liked to 
think of as cultural progress, when actually it had been just an 
acquisition of barbarism. 

“That is . . . pardon, barbarism 5 ” croaked Herr von Riedesel, 
who was of course accustomed to see in the barbaric a form, if a 
slightly compromising one, of the conservative. 

“Yes indeed, Excellence. The origins of polyphonic music — 
that is, of singing simultaneously in fifths and fourths — lie remote 
from the centre of musical civilization, far from Rome, where the 
beautiful voice and the cult of it were at home. They lie in the 
raw-throated north and seem to have been a sort of compensa- 
tion for the rawness. They lie in England and France, particu- 
larly in savage Britain, which was the first to accept the third into 
harmony. The so-called higher development, the complication, 
the progress are thus sometimes the achievement of barbarism. I 
leave it to you whether this is to be praised or not. . . .” 

It was clear and plain that he was making fun of His Excellence 
and the whole company, at the same time as he was ingratiating 
himself with them as a conservative. Obviously he did not feel 
comfortable so long as any of his audience knew what they were 
to think. Of course polyphonic vocal music, this invention of pro- 
gressivist barbarism, became the object of his conservative pro- 
tection so soon as the historical transition from it to the harmonic- 
chordal principle and therewith to instrumental music of the last 
two centuries was complete. This, then, was the decline, namely 
the deterioration of the great and only true art of counterpoint, 
the cool and sacred play of numbers, which, thank God, had had 
nothing to do with prostitution of feeling or blasphemous dy- 
namic, and in this decline, right in the middle of it, belonged the 
great Bach from Eisenach, whom Goethe quite rightly called a 
harmonist. A man was not the inventor of the well-tempered 
clavichord, accordingly of the possibility of understanding every 
note ambiguously and exchanging them enharmonically, and thus 



of the newer harmonic romanticism of modulation, without de- 
serving the hard name which the wise one of Weimar gave him. 
Harmonic counterpoint^ There was not such a thing. It was 
neither fish nor flesh. The softening, the effeminizing and falsifi- 
cation, the new interpretation put on the old and genuine po- 
lyphony understood as a combined sounding of various voices into 
the harmonic-chordal, had already begun in the sixteenth century, 
and people like Palestrina, the two Gabrielis, and our good Or- 
lando di Lasso here on the spot had already played their shameful 
part in it. These gentlemen brought us the conception of the 
vocal polyphonic art, “humanly” at first, oh yes, and seemed to us 
therefore the greatest masters of this style. But that was simply be- 
cause for the most part they delighted in a purely chordal texture 
of phrase, and their way of treating the polyphonic style had been 
miserably weakened by their regard for the harmonic factor, for 
the relation of consonance and dissonance. 

While everybody marvelled and laughed and clapped his knees 
at these irritating remarks, I sought Adrian’s eye, but he would 
not look at me. As for von Riedesel, he was a prey to sheer con- 

“Pardon me,” he said, “permit me . . . Bach, Palestrina ...” 

These names wore for him the nimbus of conservative author- 
ity, and here they were being assigned to the realm of modernistic 
disintegration. He sympathized — and at the same time found it 
all so unnatural that he even took his monocle out of his eye, thus 
robbing his face of every gleam of intelligence. He fared no bet- 
ter when Breisacher’s cultural harangue shifted its theme to the 
field of Old Testament criticism, thus turning to his own personal 
sphere of origin, the Jewish race or people and its intellectual his- 
tory. Even here he adhered to a double-faced, a crass and malici- 
ous conservatism. According to him, decline, besottedness, loss 
of every contact with the old and genuine, had set in earlier and 
in a more respectable place than anyone could have dreamed. I 
can only say that it was on the whole frantically funny. Biblical 
personages — revered by every Christian child — King David, King 
Solomon, and the prophets drivelling about dear God in heaven, 
these were the already debased representatives of an exploded 
late theology, which no longer had any idea of the old and genu- 
ine Hebraic actuality of Jahve, the Elohim of the people; and in 
die rites with which at the time of genuine folkishness they 
served this national god or rather forced him to physical presence, 
saw only “riddles of primeval time.” He was particularly cutting 
about Solomon “the wise,” and treated him with so little cere- 



mony that the gentlemen whistled through their teeth and the 
ladies cheered as well as they could for amazement. 

“Pardon,” said von Riedesel. “I am, to put it mildly . . . King 
Solomon in all his glory. . . . Should you not — ” e 

“No, Excellence, I should not,” answered Breisacher. “The man 
was an aesthete unnerved by erotic excesses and in a religious sense 
a progressivist blockhead, typical of the back-formation of the 
cult of the effectively present national god, the general concept 
of the metaphysical power of the folk, mto the preaching of an 
abstract and generally human god in heaven, m other words, from 
the religion of the people to the religion of the world. To prove 
it we only need to read the scandalous speech which he made 
after the first temple was finished, where he asks. ‘But will God 
indeed dwell on the earth 5 ’ as though Israel’s whole and unique 
task had not consisted therein, that it should build God a dwelling, 
a tent, and provide all means for His constant presence But Solo- 
mon was so bold as to declaim: ‘Behold, the heaven and heaven 
of heavens cannot contain Thee; how much less this house that 
I have budded' ’ That is just twaddle and the beginning of the 
end, that is the degenerate conception of the poets of the Psalms; 
with whom God is already entirely exiled into the sky, and who 
constantly sing of God in heaven, whereas the Pentateuch does 
not even know it as the seat of the Godhead. There the Elohim 
goes on ahead of the people in a pillar of fire, there He will dwell 
among the people, go about among the people and have His sham- 
bles — to avoid the thin word ‘altar’ substituted by a later human- 
ity. Is it conceivable for a psalmist to make God ask: ‘Do I then 
eat the flesh of bulls and drink the blood of goats?’ To put such 
words in God’s mouth is already simply unheard of, a slap of 
impertinent enlightenment in the face of the Pentateuch, which 
expressly describes the sacrifice as ‘the bread’ —that is, as the ac- 
tual nourishment of Jahve. It is only a step from this question, as 
also from the phrases of Solomon the ‘wise,’ to Maimomdes, sup- 
posedly the greatest rabbinical scholar of the Middle Ages, actually 
an assimilator of Aristotle, who manages to ‘explain’ the sacrifice 
as a concession by God to the heathen instincts of the people — 
ha, ha! Good, the sacrifice of blood and fat, which once, salted 
and seasoned with savoury smells, fed God, made Him a body, 
held Him to the present, is for the psalmist only a ‘symbol’ ” (I 
can still hear the accents of ineffable contempt in which Dr. 
Breisacher uttered the word); “one no longer slaughters the 
beast, but, incredibly enough, gratitude and humility. ‘Whoso 
offereth praise,’ is the word now, ‘glorifieth me’! And another 



time- ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.’ In short, all that 
ceased, long ago, to be folk and blood and religious reality; it is 
nothing any more but weak water-gruel.” 

So much as a taste of Breisacher’s highly conservative exegesis. 
It was as amusing as it was repulsive. He could not say enough to 
display the genuine cult of the real and by no means abstractly 
universal, hence also not “almighty” and “all-present” God of the 
people as a magic technique, a manipulation of dynamic forces, 
physically not without its risks, in which mishaps might easily oc- 
cur, catastrophic short circuits due to mistakes and failures. The 
sons of Aaron had died because they had brought on “strange 
fire.” That was an instance of a technical mischance, the conse- 
quence of an error. Somebody named Uzza had laid hands on the 
chest, the so-called ark of the covenant, as it threatened to slip 
when it was being transported by wagon, and he fell dead on the 
spot. That too was a transcendental dynamic discharge, occurring 
through negligence — the negligence, indeed, of King David, who 
was too fond of playing the harp, and had no real understanding 
of ‘things any more, for he had the ark conveyed as the Philistines 
did, by wagon instead of on bearing-poles according to the well- 
founded prescript of the Pentateuch. David, indeed, was quite as 
ignorant of origins and quite as besotted, not to say brutalized, 
as Solomon his son. He was too ignorant, for instance, to realize 
the dynamic dangers of a general census of the population; and 
by instituting one had brought about a serious biological misfor- 
tune, an epidemic with high mortality; a reaction of the meta- 
physical powers of the people, which might have been foreseen. 
For a genuine folk simply could not stand such a mechanizing 
registration, the dissolution by enumeration of the dynamic whole 
into similar individuals. . . . 

It merely gratified Breisacher when a lady interposed and said 
she had not known that a census was such a sin. 

“Sin>” he responded, in an exaggeratedly questioning tone No, 
in the genuine religion of a genuine folk such colourless theologi- 
cal conceptions as sin and punishment never occurred, in their 
merely ethical causal connection. What we had here was the 
causakty of error, a working accident. Religion and ethics repre- 
sented the decline of religion. All morality was “a purely intellec- 
tual” misunderstanding of the ritual. Was there anything more 
god-forsaken than the “purely intellectual”? It had remained for 
tike characterless world-religion, out of “prayer” - sit venia verbo 
— to make a begging appeal for mercy, an “O Lord,” “God have 
mercy,” a “Help” and “Give” and “Be so good.” Our so-called 



prayer . . . “Pardon 1 ” said von Riedesel, this time with real em- 
phasis. “Quite right, of course, but ‘Head bare at prayer was al- 
ways my—” 

“Prayer,” finished Dr. Breisacher relentlessly, “is the vulgarized 
and rationahstically watered-down late form of something very 
vital, active and strong* the magic invocation, the coercion of 

I really felt sorry for the Baron. Here was his aristocratic con- 
servatism outbid by the frightfully clever playing of atavistic 
cards; by a radical conservatism that no longer had anything 
aristocratic about it, but rather something revolutionary, some- 
thing more disrupting than any liberalism, and yet, as though in 
mockery, possessing a laudable conservative appeal. All that must 
bewilder the very depths of his soul. I imagined it giving him a 
sleepless night, but my sympathy may have been exaggerated. 
Certainly not everything that Breisacher said was correct. One 
could easily have disputed him and pointed out that the spirited 
condemnation of the sacrifice is not found first of all in the 
prophets but in the Pentateuch itself; for it is Moses who bluntly 
declares that the sacrifice is secondary and lays all the emphasis 
on obedience to God and the keeping of His commandments. But 
a sensitive man does not like to disturb another; it is unpleasant 
to break in on a train of thought with logical or historical objec- 
tions; even in the anti-intellectual such a man respects and spares 
the intellectual. Today we see, of course, that it was the mistake 
of our civilization to have practised all too magnanimously this 
respect and forbearance. For we found after all that the opposite 
side met us with sheer impudence and the most determined in- 

I was already thinking of all these things when at the beginning 
of this work I made an exception to my general profession of 
friendliness towards the Jewish people, confessing that I had run 
across some pretty annoying specimens, and the name of the 
scholar Breisacher slipped prematurely from my pen. Yet can one 
quarrel with the Jewish spirit when its quick hearing and recep- 
tivity for the coming thing, the new, persists also in the most ex- 
traordinary situations, where the avant-garde coincides with the 
reactionary? In any case, it was at the Schlagmhaufens’, and 
through this very Breisacher, that I first came in touch with the 
new world of anti-humanity, of which my easy-going soul till 
then had known nothing at all. 


The Munich carnival season, that period between Epiphany and 
Ash Wednesday, was celebrated by common consent with dance 
and mirth, with flaming cheeks and flashing eyes, and with all 
sorts of public and private entertainments. The carnival of 1914, 
in which I, the still youthful academy professor from Freising, 
alone or in company with Adrian, took part, has remained in my 
memory, a vivid or rather a portentous image. It was indeed the 
last carnival before the beginning of the four-year war which 
has now been telescoped with the horrors of today into one his- 
torical epoch, the last one before the so-called “first World War,” 
which put an end for ever to the idyl of aesthetic guilelessness in 
the city on the Isar and its dionysiac easy-goingness — if I may put 
it like that. And it was also the tame in which certain individual 
destinies in our circle of acquaintance unfolded before my eyes, 
and, almost unheeded outside our circle, led up to naked catastro- 
phe. I go into it in these pages because what happened did to 
some extent touch the life and destiny of my hero, Adrian Lever- 
kiihn; yes, in one of them, to my actual knowledge, he was in- 
volved and active in an obscure and fatal way. 

I am not referring to the case of Clarissa Rodde, the proud and 
flippant blonde who toyed with the macabre. She still lived among 
us, in her mother’s house, and shared in the carnival gaieties. Soon 
afterwards, however, she prepared to leave town and fill an en- 
gagement as jeune premiere in the provinces, which her teacher, 
who played father parts at the Hoftheater, had got for her. The 
engagement proved a failure; and her teacher, a man of experience 
named Seiler, must be absolved from all responsibility for it. He 
had written a letter one day to the Frau Senator saying that his 
pupil was extraordinarily intelligent and full of enthusiasm, but 
that she had not enough natural gift for a successful career on the 
stage. She lacked, he said, the first requisite of all dramatic art, 
the instinct of the play-actor — what one calls theatre blood; and 
in all conscience he felt constrained to advise against her eontinu- 



ing. This had led to a cnse de nerves, an outburst of despair on 
Clarissa’s part, which went to the mother’s heart, and Seiler had 
been asked to terminate the training and use his connections to 
get her a start as a beginner. 

It is now twenty-four years since Clarissa’s lamentable destiny 
fulfilled itself, as I shall relate m its proper place in my story. 
Here I have m mind what happened to her delicate and suffer ing 
sister Inez, who cultivated the past and its regrets — and to poor 
Rudi Schwerdtfeger, of whom I thought with horror when I 
mentioned just now, almost involuntarily, the share of the recluse 
Adrian Leverkuhn in these events. The reader is already used to 
my anticipations and will not interpret them as muddle-headed- 
ness and disregard of literary conventions. The truth is simply 
that I fix my eye in advance with fear and dread, yes, with hor- 
ror on certain things which I shall sooner or later have to tell; 
they stand before me and weigh me down, and I try to distribute 
their weight by referring to them beforehand, of course not com- 
prehensibly to anybody but myself. I let them a little way out of 
the bag and hope by this means to make the telling more tolerable 
to myself, to take out the sting and mitigate the distress. So much 
in excuse of a “faulty” technique of narration and in explanation 
of my difficulties. I scarcely need to say that Adrian was remote 
from the beginnings of the events I shall speak of here, being 
aware of them only to a certain extent and that only through me, 
who had much more social curiosity or shall I say human sym- 

As I mentioned earlier, neither of the two Rodde sisters, Clarissa 
and Inez, got on particularly well with their mother, the Frau 
Senator, and they not seldom betrayed that the informal, slightly 
lax and bohemian air of her salon, the uprooted existence, uphol- 
stered though it was with the remnants of upper-middle-class ele- 
gance, got on their nerves. They strained away from the hybrid 
milieu, but in different directions. The proud Clarissa reached 
outwards towards a definite career as an actress, for which, as her 
master had finally been forced to say, she lacked a real calling. 
While, on the other hand, the refined and pensive Inez, who was 
at bottom afraid of life, yearned back to the refuge, the psycho- 
logical security of an assured bourgeois position, the route to 
which was marriage, for love if possible, but in God’s name even 
without love. Inez walked this road, of course with the cordial 
approval of her mother, and came to grief, as her sister did on 
hers. It turned out tragically enough that this solution was not the 
right one: that neither for Inez personally, nor for her circum- 


stances in view of the times she hved in, this upsetting and under- 
mining social epoch, did it hold out any hope of satisfaction. 

At this time there approached her a certain Dr. Helmut Insti- 
toris, instructor in aesthetics and the history of art at the Techni- 
cal Institute in Munich, where he lectured on aesthetic theory and 
the history of Renaissance architecture and handed round photo- 
graphs m class. He had good prospects of being called one day 
to the university, of becoming professor, member of the Academy 
and so on, especially when he, a bachelor from a solid Wurzburg 
family, in expectancy of a good inheritance, should have enhanced 
his dignity by setting up a household of his own where he could 
gather society about him. He went courting, and he did not 
worry about the financial situation of the girl he courted. On the 
contrary, he belonged to those men who prefer in marriage to 
have all the economic power in their hands and to have their wives 
dependent on them. 

Such an attitude does not speak for conscious strength. And 
Institoris was in fact not a strong man; one realized it in the aes- 
thetic admiration he showed for everything bursting with ex- 
uberant vitality. He was blond and dolichocephalic, rather small 
and very good form, with smooth hair, parted and slightly oiled. 
A blond moustache drooped over his mouth, and behind the gold- 
rimmed glasses the blue eyes wore a gentle, high-minded expres- 
ison, which made it hard to understand — or perhaps precisely 
did make one understand— that he respected and revered brute 
force, but of course only when it was beautiful. He belonged to 
a type bred in those decades — the kind of man who, as Baptist 
Spengler once aptly put it, “when consumption glows in his 
cheeks, keeps on shrieking: ‘How stark and beautiful is life!’ ” 

Well, Institoris did not shriek, on the contrary he spoke rather 
softly, with a lisp, even when he celebrated the Italian Renaissance 
as a time that “reeked of blood and beauty.” He was not consump- 
tive, had at most, like nearly everybody, been slightly tubercular 
in his youth. But he was delicate and nervous, suffered from his 
sympathetic nerve, in his solar plexus, from which so many anx- 
ieties and early fears of death proceed, and was an habitue of a 
sanatorium for the wealthy in Meran. Surely he promised him- 
self— and his doctors promised him — an improvement in his 
health resulting from the regularity of a comfortable married life. 

In the winter of 1913-14 he approached our Inez Rodde in a 
way that made one guess it would end in an engagement. How- 
ever, the affair dragged on for some time, into the early years of 
the war: doubt and conscience-searching on both sides probably 



induced a long and careful testing, to see whether they were 
truly born for each other. But when one saw the “pair” together 
in the Frau Senator's salon, to which Institons had correctly 
sought an introduction, or m public places, often sitting apart 
and talking, it was just this question which seemed to be at issue 
between them, whether directly or not, and the friendly observer, 
seeing something like a trial engagement in the offing, involun- 
tarily discussed the subject too within himself. 

That it was Inez upon whom Helmut had cast his eye might 
surprise one at first, but one understood it better in the end. She 
was no Renaissance female — anything but that, in her tempera- 
mental sensitiveness, with her veiled glance, full of melancholy and 
distinction, her head drooping on the slender, extended stalk 
and the little pursed-up mouth that seemed to indicate a feeble 
and fluctuating love of mischief. But on the other hand, the wooer 
would not have known how to cope with his own ideal either; 
his masculine superiority would have been found sorely wanting 
— one only needed to imagine him paired with a full and rounded 
nature like the Orlanda’s to smile and be convinced. And Inez 
was by no means without feminine charm, it was understandable 
that a man on the look-out might have fallen in love with her 
heavy hair, her little dimpling hands, her aristocratic air of set- 
ting store by herself. She might be what he needed. Her circum- 
stances attracted him: namely, her patrician origin, on which she 
laid stress, though it was slightly breathed upon by her present 
transplanted state; the faint suggestion that she had come down in 
the world, and thus threatened no superiority. Indeed, he might 
cherish the thought that in making her his he would be raising and 
rehabilitating her. A widowed mother, half-impoverished, a little 
pleasure-seeking; a sister who was going on the stage; a circle 
more or less bohemian: these were connections which did not, 
in combination with his own dignity, displease him, especially 
since socially he lost nothing by them, did not endanger his ca- 
reer, and might be sure that Inez, correctly and amply supplied 
by the Frau Senator with a dowry of linen, perhaps even silver, 
would make a model housewife and hostess. 

Thus things looked to me, as seen from Dr. Institoris’s side. If 
I tried to look at him with the girl’s eyes, the thing ceased to be 
plausible. I could not, even using all my imagination, ascribe to the 
man, unimpressive as he was, absorbed in himself, refined indeed, 
with an excellent education, but physically anything but com- 
manding (he even had a tripping gait), any appeal for the other 
sex; whereas I felt that Inez, with all her maiden reserve and aus- 


terity, needed such an appeal. Added to this was the contrast be- 
tween the philosophical views, the theoretic posture towards life, 
assumed by the two — which might be considered diametrical and 
exemplary. It was, to put it briefly, the antithesis between aes- 
thetics and ethics, which in fact largely dominated the cultural 
dialectics of the time and was to some extent embodied in these 
two young people: the conflict between a doctrinaire glorifica- 
tion of “life” in its splendid unthinkingness, and the pessimistic 
reverence for suffering, with its depth and wisdom. One may say 
that at its creative source this contrast had formed a personal 
unity and only through time fell out and strove against itself. Dr. 
Insutoris was in the very marrow of his bones a man of the 
Renaissance — one feels like commenting “Good God!” — and 
Inez Rodde quite explicitly a child of pessimistic moralism. For 
a world that “reeked of blood and beauty” she had no use at all, 
and as for “life” she was seeking shelter from it in a strictly ortho- 
dox, modish, economically well-upholstered marriage, which 
should protect her from all possible blows of fate. It was ironic 
that the man — the manikin — who seemed desirous to offer her 
this shelter raved about beautiful ruthlessness and Italian poisoners. 

I doubt that they, when they were alone, discussed any con- 
troversies of world-wide bearing. They talked of things nearer at 
hand and simply tried to see how it would be to be engaged. 
Philosophical discussion as a social diversion belonged more to 
the larger group; and I do remember several occasions when we 
were all sitting together, perhaps round an alcqve table in a ball- 
room, and the views of the two clashed in conversation. Institoris 
might assert that only human beings with strong and brutal in- 
stincts could create great works, and Inez would protest, con- 
tending that it had often been highly Christian characters, bowed 
down by conscience, refined by suffering, their view of life 
marked by melancholy, from whom had come great things in art. 
Such antitheses I found idle and ephemeral, they seemed to do no 
justice to actual fact, the seldom happy and certainly always pre- 
carious balance of vitality and infirmity which genius obviously 
is. But in this discussion one side represented that which it was, 
namely sickliness, the other that which it worshipped, namely 
strength, and both must be allowed to have their voice. 

Once, I recall, as we sat together (the Knoterichs, Zink and 
Spengler, Schildknapp and his publisher Radbruch were also of 
the party) the friendly difference arose not between the lovers, 
as one tended to call them, but amusingly enough between Insu- 
toris and Rudi Schwerdtfeger, who was sitting with us, very 




charming in his huntsman’s costume. I no longer clearly remember 
the discussion; anyhow the disagreement arose from a quite inno- 
cent remark of Schwerdtfeger’s, about which he had surely 
thought little 6x nothing. It was about “merit,” so much I know; 
something fought for, achieved, accomplished by will-power and 
self-conquest, and Rudolf, who praised the occurrence warmly, 
and called it deserving, could not in the least understand what 
Institons meant by denying any value to it and refusing to recog- 
nize any virtue that had to sweat for it to that extent. From the 
point of view of beauty, he said, it was not the will but the gift 
that was to be praised; it alone could be called meritorious Effort 
was plebeian, aristocratic and therefore alone meritorious was 
solely what happened out of instinct, involuntarily and with ease. 
Now, the good Rudi was no hero or conqueror, and had never in 
his life done anything that did not come easy to him, as for in- 
stance his capital violin-playing. Rut what the other said did go 
against the grain with him, and although he dimly felt that the 
subject had something “higher” about it, out of his own reach, 
he would not let himself be talked down. He looked Institoris in 
the face, his lip curled angrily, and his blue eyes bored into the 
other’s, first the right and then the left, by turns. 

“After all, that is just nonsense,” he said, but m a contained, 
rather subdued voice, betraying that he did not feel so sure of his 
argument “Merit is merit, and a gift isn’t a merit. You are always 
talking about beauty, doctor, but after all it is beautiful when 
somebody trmmpjis over himself and does something better than 
nature gave him to do. What do you say, Inez?” he turned ap- 
pealingly to her with his question, in perfect innocence, for he 
had no idea of the fundamentally opposed nature of her views 
and Helmut’s. 

“You are right,” she answered, a faint glow rising in her cheeks. 
“At least I think so. A gift is pleasing; but the word ‘merit’ im- 
plies admiration of a different kind, not applicable to a gift nor to 
the instinctive at all ” 

“There you have it!” cried Schwerdtfeger triumphantly, and 
Institoris laughed back: 

“By all means. You went to the right shop.” 

There was something strange here, nobody could help feeling 
it, at least for the moment; nor did the flush in Inez’s cheek im- 
mediately subside. It was just m her line to disagree with her lover 
in all such questions. But it was not in her line to agree with the 
boy Rudolf. He was utterly unaware that there was such a thing 
as immoralism, and one cannot well agree with a thesis while not 



understanding its opposite — at least not before it has been ex- 
plained to him. In Inez’s verdict, although it was logically quite 
natural and justified, there was after all something that put one 
off, and that something was underlined for me by the burst of 
laughter with which her sister Clarissa greeted Schwerdtfeger’s 
undeserved triumph. It surely did not escape this haughty person 
with the too short chm when superiority, on grounds which have 
nothing to do with superiority, gave something away and was 
just as certainly of the opinion that it gave nothing away. 

“There!” she cried. “Jump up, Rudolf, say thank you, hop up, 
laddy, and bow! Fetch your rescuer an ice and engage her for the 
next waltz! ” 

That was always her way. She always stood up for her sister 
and said “Up with you!” whenever it was a matter of Inez’s dig- 
nity. She said it to Institoris, too, the suitor, when he behaved with 
something less than alacrity in his gallantries, or was slow in the 
uptake. Altogether, out of pride she held with superiority, looked 
out for it, and showed herself highly surprised when she thought 
it did not get its due. If he wants something of you , she seemed 
to say, you have to hop up. I well remember how she once said- 
“Hop up'” to Schwerdtfeger on Adrian’s behalf, he having ex- 
pressed a wish — I think it was a ticket for Jeanette Scheurl to the 
Zapfenstosser orchestra — and Schwerdtfeger made some objec- 
tion. “Yes, Rudolf, you just hop along and get it,” said she. “For 
heaven’s sake, have you lost your legs?” 

“No, no,” said he, “I only, certainly, of course I — but— ” 

“But me no buts,” she cut him short, condescendingly, half 
farcically but also half reproachfully. And Adrian as well as 
Schwerdtfeger laughed; the latter, making his usual boyish gri- 
mace with the comer of his mouth and shrugging his shoulder 
inside his jacket, promised that he should be served. 

It was as though Clarissa saw in Rudolf the sort of suitor who 
had to “hop”; and in fact he constantly, in the most naive way, 
confidingly and unabashedly sued for Adrian’s favour. About the 
real suitor who was courting her sister she often tried to worm an 
opinion out of me — and Inez herself did the same, in a shyer, 
more refined way, drawing back almost at once, as though she 
wanted to hear, and yet wanted to hear and know nothing. Both 
sisters had confidence in me; that is, they seemed to consider me 
capable of just evaluations of others, a capacity, of course, which, 
if it is to inspire full confidence, must stand outside any situation 
and view it with unclouded eye. The role of confidant is always 
at once gratifying and painful, for one always plays it with the 



premise that one does not come into consideration oneself. But 
how much better it is, I have often told myself, to inspire the 
world with confidence than to rouse its passion’ How much bet- 
ter to seem to it “good” than “beautiful 1 ” 

A “good” man, that was in Inez Rodde’s eyes probably one to 
whom the world stands m a purely ethical relation, not an aes- 
thetically stimulated one, hence her confidence m me. But I must 
say that I served the sisters somewhat unequally and expressed 
my opinions about Institoris m a form proper to the person who 
asked for them. In conversation with Clarissa I spoke far more as 
I really felt; expressed myself as a psychologist about the motives 
of his choice and his hesitations (anyhow the hesitation was not 
all on one side), and did not scruple to poke a little fun at his “Miss 
Nancy” ways and worship of “brute instinct.” She seemed to 
concur. When Inez herself talked to me, it was not the same. 
I deferred to feelings which pro forma I assumed in her, without 
actually believing m them; deferred to the reasonable grounds on 
which in all probability she would marry the man, and spoke 
with sober regard of his solid qualities, his knowledge, his human 
decency, his capital prospects. To give my words adequate 
warmth and yet not too much was a delicate task; for it seemed 
to me equally a responsibility whether I strengthened the girl in 
her doubts and depreciated the security for which she yearned, or 
on the other hand encouraged her to give herself while cherish- 
ing such doubts. I even had some ground for feeling, now and 
then, that I ran more of a risk by encouraging than by dissuading. 

The truth was that she soon had enough of my opinions about 
Helmut Institoris and went on with her confidences in a general 
way, asking my opinion about certain other persons in the circle, 
for instance Zink and Spengler, or, for another example, Schwerdt- 
feger. What did I think about his violin-playing, she asked; about 
his character, whether and how much I respected him, what shade 
of seriousness or humour my regard showed. I answered as best I 
could, with all possible iustice, quite as I have spoken of Rudolf 
in these pages, and she listened attentively, enlarging on my 
friendly commendation with some remarks of her own, to which 
again I could only agree, though I was rather struck by her in- 
sistence. Considering the girl's character, her confirmed and mis- 
trustful view of life, her ideas were not surprising, but applied to 
this particular subject I must say they rather put me ofl:. 

Yet after all it was no wonder that she, knowing the attractive 
young man so much longer than I, and like Clarissa in a brother- 
and-sister relation with him, had observed him more closely and 


had more matter for a confidential conversation. He was a man 
without vice, she said (she used a milder word, yet it was clear 
that was what she meant) , a clean man, hence his confidingness, 
for cleanness was confiding (a touching word in her mouth, since 
she herself was not confiding at all, save by exception to me). He 
did not drink, taking nothing but slightly sugared tea without 
cream, three times a day; he did not smoke, or at most only occa- 
sionally, he did not make a habit of it. For all such masculine 
pacifiers (I think I remember the word) — in short, for narcotics 
— flirtation was his substitute, he was utterly given to flirtation, 
he was a born flirt. She did not mean love or friendship, both of 
these by his very nature and, so to speak, under his hands became 
flirtation. A poseur* Yes and no. Certainly not in the ordinary 
vulgar sense. One need only see him with Bullinger, the manu- 
facturer, who plumed himself so enormously on his money, and 
liked to sing. 

A happy heart and healthy blood 

Are better than much gold and goods 

just to make people envious of his money. Rudolf was not like 
that at all. But he made it hard for one to feel sure of him all the 
time. His coquetry, his nice manners, his social coxcombry, his 
love of society altogether were really something frightful Did I 
not find, she asked, that this whole free-and-easy, aesthetic life 
here in this place, for instance the smart Biedermeier celebration 
which we had lately attended in the Cococello Club, was in tor- 
turing contrast to the sadness and disillusionments of life? Did I 
not know, like her, that shudder at the spiritual vacuity which 
reigned in the average gathering, in glaring contrast to the fever- 
ish excitement induced by the wine, the music, and the under- 
currents of human relations? Sometimes one could see how some- 
body talked with somebody else, preserving all the social forms, 
while his mind was entirely absent, fixed on another person at 
whom he was looking. . . . And then the disorder of the scene 
afterwards, the rubbish strewn about, the desolation of an empty 
salon at the end of an entertainment! She confessed that some- 
times after she got home she wept for an hour before failing 
asleep. . . . 

So she went on, expressing a general criticism and disapproval, 
and seeming to have forgotten Rudolf. But when she came back 
to him one had little doubt that he had been in her mind all the 
time. When she called him a coxcomb, she said, she meant some- 
thing very harmless, almost laughable, yet it often made one feel 



doubt that there was a certain fund of nobility in Rudolfs char- 
acter. Sometimes even in company one could alter his loud and 
common mood to a gentler, more serious one, simply by a quiet 
word or surprised glance. It had really happened like that more 
than once, for Rudolf was extraordinarily susceptible; and then 
the Langewiesches and Rollwagens and whatever their names 
were became for the time mere shadows and phantoms for him. 
Yet it was enough for him to breathe other air, be exposed to 
other influences, to bring about a complete estrangement, a hope- 
less aloofness in the place of confidence and mutual understand- 
ing. Then he would feel it, for he really had fine feelings, and 
would try remorsefully to put things right. It was funny, and 
touching, but to restore good relations he might repeat some more 
or less apt phrase you had used, or a quotation you had once 
made from a book, to show that he had not forgotten, that he 
was at home among the higher things. Really it was enough to 
make one weep. And when he took leave for the evening, he 
showed his readiness to be sorry and do better: he came and said 
good-bye and made little jokes in dialect, at which one rather 
winced, for perhaps one was suffering from fatigue. But then 
when he had shaken hands all round he came back and said good- 
bye again, quite simply, so that one was able to respond. And that 
meant a good exit for him, which he simply had to have. At the 
two other houses he was going to he probably did the same 
thing. . . . 

Have I said enough 5 This is no novel, in whose composition the 
author reveals the hearts of his characters indirectly, by the action 
he portrays. In a biography, of course, I must introduce things 
directly, by name, and simply state such psychological factors as 
have a bearing on the life I am describing. But after the singular 
expressions which my memory leads me to write down, expres- 
sions of what I might call a specific intensity, there can be no 
doubt as to the fact to be communicated. Inez Rodde was in love 
with young Schwerdtfeger. There were only two questions to be 
asked: first, did she know it, and second, when, at what point had 
her original brother-sister relation with him assumed this ardent 
and distressful colour? 

The first question I answer with a yes. So well-read a girl, one 
might say psychologically trained, keeping watch with a poet’s 
eye upon her own experiences must certainly have had an insight 
into the growth of her own feeling — however surprising, yes, un- 
believable the development might have seemed to her at first The 
apparent naivete with which she bared her heart to me was no 



evidence of ignorance; for what looked like simplicity was partly 
a compulsive desire to communicate and partly a motion or con- 
fidence in me, a strangely disguised confidence, for to some extent 
she was pretending that she thought me simple enough not to un- 
derstand; and that was in itself a sort of confidence. But actually 
she knew and was glad to know that the truth was not escaping 
me since, to my honour be it spoken, she trusted her secret with 
me. She might do so, of course, might be certain of my discretion 
and my human sympathy, however hard it naturally is for a man 
to enter into the feelings of a woman on fire with love for some- 
body of his own sex. It is much easier for us to follow the feelings 
of a man for a woman — even though he be entirely indifferent to 
her himself — than to put himself in the place of a woman m love 
with another man. One does not at bottom “understand” that, one 
just accepts it as a well-bred man should, in objective respect for 
a law of nature — and indeed the attitude of a man is usually more 
tolerant and benevolent than that of a woman, who mostly casts 
a jealous eye on a friend who tells her a man is in love with her, 
even though she cares nothing at all for the man. 

I did not fail, then, in friendly good will, even though I was 
prevented by nature from understanding in the sense of fellow- 
feeling. My God, little Schwerdtfeger 1 His facial structure had 
something of the pug about it, his voice was guttural, he was 
more like a boy than a man, the lovely blue of his eyes, his good 
straight growth and captivating violin-playing and whistling, his 
general niceness admitted and agreed. Well, then, Inez Rodde 
loved him. Not blindly, but for that reason suffering the more; 
and my inward attitude was that of her mocking sister Clarissa, 
who looked .down her nose at the other sex: I should have liked 
to say to him: “Hop, man! Hop up and do your duty — what do 
you think of yourself?” 

But hopping was not so simple, even if Rudolf had acknowl- 
edged the obligation. For there was Helmut Institoris, the bride- 
groom, or bridegroom in spe , Institoris the suitor. And here I 
come back to the question: since when had Inez’s sisterly rela- 
tions with Rudolf turned into passionate love^ My human powers 
of intuition told me: it had happened when Dr. Helmut ap- 
proached her, as man to woman, and began to woo her. I was and 
remain convinced that Inez would never have fallen in love with 
Schwerdtfeger without the entry of Institoris into her life. He 
wooed her, but in a sense for another. A man not passionate him- 
self could by his courtship and the trains of thought connected 
with it arouse the woman in her: it might go that far. But he 


2 97 

could not arouse it for himself, though on grounds of good sense 
she was ready to accept him — that far it did not go. Instead her 
awakened femininity turned straightway to another man, towards 
whom thus far she had consciously felt only tranquil sisterly feel- 
ings— and now others had been released in her. It was not that 
she found him “the right one” or worthy of her love. No, it was 
her melancholy nature, seeking unhappiness, which fixed upon 
him as its object; upon him from whom she had heard with dis- 
gust the woras: “There are so many unhappy ones 1 ” 

And stranger still: her inadequate suitor’s predilection for soul- 
lessness and the beauty of instinct, so repugnant to her own views 
— had she not fallen victim to it herself, in her love for Rudolfs 
She was, in a way, betraying Institoris with his own convictions; 
for did not Rudolf represent to her wise and disillusioned gaze 
something like sweet unthinking life itself? 

Compared with Institoris, who was a mere instructor in the 
beautiful, Rudolf had on his side the advantage of art at first 
hand: art, nourisher of the passions, transcender of the human. 
For by his art the person of the beloved is elevated, from art the 
emotions ever draw fresh food, when the artist’s own individual- 
ity is associated with the joys his art purveys. Inez at bottom de- 
spised the aesthetic traffic of the sense-loving city into which she 
had been transplanted by her mother’s craving for a less strait- 
laced life. But for the sake of her bourgeois security she took part 
in the festivities of a community which was just one great art- 
society, and this it was emperilled the security she sought. My 
memory preserves pregnant and disquieting images of this time: 

I see us, the Roddes, the Knoterichs perhaps, ana myself, after a 
particularly brilliant performance of a Tchaikovsky symphony in 
the Zapfenstosser concert hall, standing in the crowd in one of the 
front rows and applauding. The conductor had motioned the or- 
chestra to stand up to receive the thanks of the audience for its 
beautiful work. Schwerdtfeger, a little to the left of the first vio- 
lin, whose place he was soon to take, stood with his instrument 
under his a rm, warm and beaming, face towards the hall and 
nodding to us with not quite permissible familiarity, while Inez, 
at whom I could not resist stealing a glance, with her head thrust 
out, her mouth mischievously pursed, kept her eyes obstinately 
directed at some other point on the stage, perhaps on the leader, 
or no, farther along, on the harps. Or another time I see Rudolf 
himself, all on fire over a classic performance by a guest colleague, 
standing in the front of an almost emptied hall, applauding up at 
the stage where the soloist stood bowing for the tenth time. Two 



steps away, among the disarray of chairs, stands Inez, who sees 
him and waits for him to stop clapping, turn round and speak to 
her. He does not turn, he continues to applaud. But out of the 
corner of his eye he looks — or perhaps not quite looks, perhaps 
his blue eyes are only the slightest shade turned from a direct 
gaze up at the platform and towards the corner where she stands 
and waits. He does not pause in his enthusiastic activity. Another 
few seconds and she turns away, pale with anger, lines between 
her brows, and moves towards the door. At once he stops clapping 
and follows her. At the door he overtakes her; she puts on an air 
of chilling surprise to find him here, to find that he exists at all. 
Refuses to speak, refuses her hand, her eyes, and hastens out. 

I see that it was ill-judged of me to try to set down all the 
trifling minutiae which were the harvest of my observant eye. 
They are not worth printing, the reader may easily find them 
puerile or be annoyed by what seems like idle and boring specula- 
tion But he must consider that I am suppressing a hundred others 
that got caught as it were in the net of my perceptions, the per- 
ceptions of a sympathetic and benevolent friend, thanks to the 
calamity they added up to, I cannot so easily dismiss them from 
my mind. For years I watched the oncoming of a catastrophe, in- 
significant, it is true, in the light of world events; and I held 
my peace about what I saw and feared. Only to Adrian did I 
once speak, at the beginning, in Pfeiffenng, although I had on the 
whole small inclination, always feeling a certain reluctance to dis- 
cuss the love-affairs of our circle with him, who lived in monkish 
detachment from everything of the sort. Yet T did so: I told him 
in confidence that Inez Rodde, although about to engage herself 
to Institoris, was, so far as my observation went, hopelessly and 
fatally in love with Rudi Schwerdtfeger. We were sitting in the 
Abbot’s room, playing chess. 

“That’s news’” he said. “You probably want me to miss my 
move and lose my castle.” 

He smiled, shook his head, and added: “Poor soul!” 

Then, as he considered his next play, with a pause between the 
sentences- “But that’s no joke for him. — He must see to it that he 
gets out of it whole ” 


The first glowing August days of 1914 found me changing from 
one crowded train to another, waiting in stations swarming with 
people, their platforms piled with left-behind luggage, on a head- 
long journey from Freising to Naumburg in Thuringia, where as 
reserve vice-sergeant-major I was joining my regiment. 

War had broken out. The fate that so long had brooded over 
Europe was upon us, it raged. In the guise of a disciplined execu- 
tion of all the plans previously made and rehearsed, it raged 
through our cities and towns, as terror and exaltation, as the in- 
evitable, as “destiny”; as awareness of power and readiness for 
sacrifice, in the heads and hearts of men. It may well be, I like to 
think so, that elsewhere, in both enemy and allied countries, this 
short cut of fate was felt more as a catastrophe and “grand mal- 
heur.” We in the field heard these words so often from the lips of 
Frenchwomen, who did have the war on their soil, in their homes 
and on their hearths: “Ah, monsieur, la guerre, quel grand mal- 
heur!” But in our Germany its effect was undeniably and pre- 
eminently enthusiasm, historic ardour, joy at being released from 
dull everyday, and from a world-stagnation that could go on no 
longer, as hope for the future, an appeal to duty and manhood, in 
short as a holiday for heroes. My Freising top-formers had hot 
heads and glowing eyes. Youthful thirst for adventure, impatience 
to be off, were naively mingled with satisfaction at an early re- 
lease from school. They stormed the recruiting stations, and I 
was glad that they need not look down on me for a stay-at-home. 

I would by no means deny that I fully shared in the popular 
exultation which I just sought to characterize, though its more ex- 
travagant ebullitions were foreign to my nature. My conscience, 
speaking generally, was not perfectly clear. Such a “mobilization” 
for war, however stem and grim a face it wears, must always have 
something about it like an unlicensed holiday; however unreserv- 
edly one’s duty, it seems a little like playing truant, like running 
away, like yielding to unbridled instinct. A settled man like me 
scarcely felt at ease in it all; and aside from personal and tempera- 



mental discomfort, I dimly felt a moral doubt: had we as a na- 
tion been so well-behaved up to now that this abandon, these 
transports, w r ere legitimate 5 But now the moment had come for 
readiness to sacrifice and die, that carries one along over every- 
thing, it is so to speak the last word, after it there is no more to 
be said. If the war is felt more or less clearly as a general visita- 
tion, in which the individual, as well as the individual people, is 
ready to stand his man and atone with his blood for the weak- 
nesses and sms of the time, including his own, if he thinks of him- 
self as a sacrifice by which the old Adam is put away and from 
which in unity a new and higher life will be wrested, then our 
everyday morals are outbid by the abnormal and must be silent. 
Neither would I forget that then we went with relatively pure 
hearts and clean hands to war and did not think we had so be- 
haved at home that a general and catastrophic blood-letting must 
needs be regarded as the inevitable logical consequence of our 
domestic doings. Thus it was five years ago, God help us, but not 
thirty' Justice and law, the habeas corpus, freedom and human 
dignity had been tolerably honoured in the land. Of course the 
sword-waving of that fundamentally unsoldierly play-actor, made 
for anything but war, who sat on the imperial throne was painful 
to the man of culture; moreover his attitude to the things of the 
mind was that of a retarded mentality. But his influence on them 
had exhausted itself in empty gestures of regulation. Culture had 
been free, she had stood at a respectable height; and though she 
had long been used to a complete absence of relations with the 
govermng power, her younger representatives might see in a great 
national war, such as now broke out, a means of achieving a form 
of life in which state and culture might become one. In this we 
displayed the preoccupation with self which is peculiar to us: our 
naive egoism finds it unimportant, yes, takes it entirely for 
granted, that for 'the sake of our development (and we are always 
developing) the rest of the world, further on than ourselves and 
not at all possessed by the dynamic of catastrophe, must shed its 
blood. They take that ill of us, not quite unfairly; for ethically 
speaking, the only way a people can achieve a higher form of 
communal life is not by a foreign war, but by a civil one — even 
with bloodshed. The idea is repugnant to us; yet we thought 
nothing at all, on the contrary we found it glorious, that our na- 
tional unification — and even so a partial, a compromise unifica- 
tion — cost three serious wars. We were already long since a great 
power, we were quite used to it, and it did not make us as happy 
as we had expected. The feeling that it had not made us more 



winning, that our relation to the world had rather worsened than 
improved, lay, unconfessed, deep in our hearts. A new break- 
through seemed due: we would become a dominating world 
power — but such a position was not to be achieved by means of 
mere moral “home-work.” War, then, and if needs must, war 
against everybody, to convince everybody and to win, that was 
our lot, our “sending” (the very word we use is Germanic, the 
idea pre-Christian, the whole concept a tragically mythological, 
musical-dramatic motif) ; that was what fate had willed, and we — 
only we! — enthusiastically responded and set forth. We were 
bursting with the consciousness that this was Germany’s century, 
that history was holding her hand out over us, that after Spam, 
France, England, it was our turn to put our stamp on the world 
and be its leader; that the twentieth century was ours; that now, 
at the end of the bourgeois epoch begun some hundred 
and twenty years before, the world was to renew itself in our 
sign, in the sign of a never up to the end quite defined military 

This picture, not to call it an idea, possessed all our heads, com- 
panionably side by side with another: the belief that we were 
forced into war, that sacred necessity called us to take our weap- 
ons — those well-polished weapons whose readiness and excellence 
always induced a secret temptation to test them. Then there was 
the fear of being overrun from all sides, from which fate only our 
enormous strength protected us, our power of carrying the war 
straightway into other lands. Attack and defence were the same, 
in our case: together they made up the feeling of a providence, a 
calling, a great hour, a sacred necessity. The peoples beyond our 
borders might consider us disturbers of the peace if they chose, 
enemies of life and not to be borne with; but we had the means to 
knock the world on the head until it changed its mind and came 
not only to admire but to love us. 

Let nobody think I am being jocose. There is no occasion for 
that, first of all because I can by no means pretend to have ex- 
cluded myself from the general emotion. I genuinely shared it, 
even though my normal staid professorial attitude would have 
held me aloof from any loud manifestation, or even have caused 
in me some slight protest, a subconscious misgiving at thinking 
and feeling what everybody else thought and felt. People of my 
sort have doubts whether every man’s thoughts are the right ones. 
And still, it is a great pleasure to the superior individual, just once 
— and where should one find this once, if not here and now? — 
to lose himself altogether in the general. 



I stopped two days in Munich to make my farewells in various 
quarters and supply some details of my equipment. The city was 
seething. There was a religious solemnity in the air, as well as 
cases of panic, rage, and dread; as for instance when the wild ru- 
mour sprang up that the water supply was poisoned, or a Serbian 
spy was supposed to have been discovered in the crowd. In order 
not to be taken for one and cut down by mistake, Dr. Breisacher, 
whom I met on the Ludwigstrasse, had decorated his coat with 
numerous little red, white, and black rosettes and flags. The state 
of war, the passing of the supreme authority from the civil to the 
military, and to a General Staff issuing proclamations, was ac- 
cepted with mingled confidence and apprehension. It was sooth- 
ing to know that the members of the royal family, who as com- 
manders had left for headquarters, would have competent chiefs 
of staff at their side and could commit no royal ineptnesses. Un- 
der those circumstances they were loudly cheered on their way. 

I saw regiments, with nosegays tied to their rifle-barrels, march- 
ing out of barrack gates, accompanied by women with handker- 
chiefs to their faces, while civilian crowds quickly gathered and 
shouted godspeed, and the peasant lads promoted to heroship 
smiled back, proud, stupid, and shy. I saw a very young officer, 
in marching kit, standing on the back platform of a tram, faced 
to the rear, staring before him and into himself, obviously busy 
with thoughts of his own young life; then he pulled himself to- 
gether and with a hasty smile looked round to see if anyone had 

Again I was glad to feel that my situation was the same as his 
and that I need not remain behind those who were marching to 
protect their land. At least in the beginning I was the only one of 
our circle to go. The country was strong enough in man-power 
to afford to be particular, to consider cultural interests, to admit 
to much unfitness and to hurl to the front only the perfectly 
sound of our youth and manhood. In nearly all the men of our 
group there turned out to be some kind of weakness, something 
we had scarcely known, but it now procured their exemption, 
Knoterich, the Sugambian, was slightly tubercular. Zink, the art- 
ist, suffered from asthmatic attacks like whooping-cough and used 
to withdraw from society to get rid of them; his friend Baptist 
Spengler was ailing, as we know, everywhere by turns. Bullinger 
the business man was still young, but it appeared that as an indus- 
trialist he was indispensable. The Zapfenstosser orchestra was too 
important a feature of the city’s artistic life for its members, 
among them Rudi Schwerdtfeger, not to be exempted from the 



service. Anyhow the occasion served to inform us, to our mo- 
mentary surprise, that Rudi, in his earlier life, had had an opera- 
tion that cost him one of his kidneys. He lived, we suddenly 
heard, with only one. That was quite enough, it appeared, and the 
ladies soon forgot all about it. 

I could go on to mention many a case of reluctance, protection, 
favoritism, in the circles that frequented the Schlaginhaufens and 
the ladies Scheurl near the Botanical Gardens: circles where there 
was a fundamental objection to this war, as there had been to the 
last one: memories of the Rhenish alliance, Francophile senti- 
ments, Catholic dislike of Prussia, and so on. Jeanette Scheurl was 
unhappy to tears. She was in despair over the savage flaring-up of 
the antagonism between the two countries to which she belonged, 
and which m her opinion ought to complement each other, in- 
stead of fighting, “yen ai assez jusqu'a la fin de mes jours," she 
said with angry sobs. Despite my dissimilar feelings I could but 
grant her a cultural sympathy. 

To say good-bye to Adrian, whose personal detachment from 
the whole scene was the most understandable thing in the world 
to me, I went out to Pfeiffering, whence the son of the house, 
Gereon, had already departed with several horses for his base. I 
found Rudiger Schildknapp there, for the present still free, spend- 
ing a week-end with our friend. He had served in the marines and 
would be taken later, but after some months he was again released. 
It was not very different in my own case: let me say at once that 
I remained in the field a bare year, till the Argonne battles of 1915, 
and was shipped home, with the Cross I had earned only by put- 
ting up with discomforts and by catching a typhus infection. 

So much by way of preface. Rudiger’s judgment of the war 
was conditioned by his admiration for the English, as was Jeanette 
Scheurl’s by her French blood. The British declaration of war 
had gone home to him, his mood was unusually sombre. We 
should never in his opinion have challenged England by the 
treaty-breaking march into Belgium. France and Russia — well 
and good, one might take them on. But England? It was fright- 
ful folly. So then, inclined to an irritated realism, he saw in the 
war only filth, stench, horrible amputations, sexual licence, and 
lice and jeered his fill at the ideological journalism that turned an 
utter nuisance into a glorious event. Adrian did not gainsay him, 
and I, despite my deeper feelings, yet willingly conceded that 
there was some truth in what he said. 

The three of us ate in the great Nike room that evening, and 
as Clementina Schweigestill moved to and fro quietly serving us. 



I asked news of how Adrian’s sister Ursula fared in Langensalza. 
Her marriage was of the happiest, it seemed; she had recovered 
very well from a weakness of the lungs, a slight apical catarrh, 
which she had got after three childbeds in quick succession, in 
1 91 1, 1912, and 1913. It was the Schneidewein offspring Rosa, 
Ezekiel, and Raimund who then saw the light. The period be- 
tween these three and the next was a full decade; it would be ten 
years before the enchanting Nepomuk made his appearance. 

During the meal and afterwards in the Abbot’s room there was 
much talk on political and moral subjects. We spoke of the leg- 
endary manifestation of the German national character, which 
was supposed to reveal itself at moments of historical crisis like 
this — I referred to it with a certain emotion, in order to offset a 
little the drastically empirical interpretation that Schildknapp 
considered the only possible one* Germany’s traditional role, the 
trespass against Belgium, which was so reminiscent of Frederick 
the Great’s attack upon formally neutral Saxony; the yell of out- 
rage that went up from the world, and the speech of our philo- 
sophical Chancellor, with its ingeniously presented admission of 
guilt, its folk-proverb: “Necessity knows no law,” its plea to God 
m contempt of an old legal paper, in face of living necessity. It 
was due to Rudiger that we ended by laughing; for he accepted 
my somewhat emotional representations and then turned into irre- 
sistible absurdity all this dignified regret, noble brutality, and re- 
spectable mischief-making by parodying the tall philosopher who 
had dressed up in poetic moralizations a strategic plan long since 
determined on. We might laugh, but there was no amusement in 
the virtuous roar that went up from a stunned world at this exe- 
cution of a cut-and-dried plan of campaign, knowledge of which 
had long been public property. However, 1 saw that our host 
liked this line much better and was glad of the chance to laugh; 
so I willingly joined m, not without recalling what Plato had said 
of comedy and tragedy: how they grow on the same tree and a 
change of lighting suffices to make one into the other. 

All together I did not allow my sympathy for Germany’s ne- 
cessity, her moral isolation and public proscription, which, so it 
seemed to me, was only the expression of the general fear of her 
strength and advantage in preparedness (I did admit that we reck- 
oned the strength and the advantage as a harsh consolation in our 
outlawed state) — all together, I say, I did not allow my patriotic 
emotion, which was so much harder to explain than that of the 
others, to be dampened by the cold water thrown on our national 



traits. Indeed, I gave it words, walking up and down the rood, 
while Schildknapp in the deep easy-cnair smoked his shag pipe, 
and Adrian stood, the most of the time, in front of his old- 
German work-table with the sunken centre and the reading- and 
writing-desk set on it. For oddly enough he wrote on a slanting 
surface, like Erasmus in Holbein’s portrait. A few books lay on 
the table: a little volume of Kleist, with the book-mark at the 
essay on marionettes; the indispensable volume of Shakespeare 
sonnets and another book with some of the plays — Twelfth 
Night I think, Much Ado about Nothing, and I believe Two Gen- 
tlemen of Verona. His work in hand lay there too: sheets, drafts, 
beginnings, notes, sketches in various stages of incompletion; often 
only the top line of the violin part or the wood-wind was filled 
out and quite below the progression of the bass, but between 
them simply white space, elsewhere the harmonic connection and 
the instrumental grouping were already made clear by the jotting 
down of the other orchestral parts. With his cigarette between 
his lips he would step up to the desk to look at his work, just as 
a chess-player measures on the chequered field the progress of a 
game, to which musical composition bears so suggestive a resem- 
blance. We were all so comfortable together that he might even 
take a pencil and enter a clarinet or horn figure somewhere if he 
thought well of it. 

We knew nothing precise about what was occupying him, now 
that that music of the cosmos had appeared in print from Schott’s 
Sons in Mainz, under the same arrangements as the Brentano 
songs. Actually it was the suite of dramatic grotesques, whose 
themes, so we heard, he had taken from the old history and anec- 
dote book, the Gesta Romanorum. He was trying these, without 
yet knowing whether anything would come of it or if he would 
continue. In any case, the characters were not to be men but 
puppets (hence the Kleist) . As for the Marvels of the Universe, 
there was to have been a foreign performance of that solemn and 
arrogant work had not the war brought the plan to nothing. We 
had spoken of it at table. The Liibeck performances of Love’s 
Labour’s Lost, even unsuccessful as they had proved, together 
with the mere existence of the Brentano cycle, had made some 
impression, and Adrian’s name had begun in the inner circles of 
the art to have a certain esoteric and tentative fame— even this 
hardly at all in Germany and decidedly not in Munich. But there 
were other, more perceptive regions. A few weeks earlier he had 
bad a letter from a Monsieur Monteux, director of the Russian 



ballet in Paris, former member of the Colonne orchestra, wherein 
this experimentally-minded director had announced his intention 
of producing the Marvels of the Universe, together with some or- 
chestral parts of Love's Labour's Lost as a concert pure and sim- 
ple He had in mind the Theatre des Champs-Elysees for the per- 
formance, and invited Adrian to come to Paris, probably m order 
to rehearse and conduct his own works. We had not asked our 
friend whether he would, under favourable conditions, accept. In 
any case, the circumstances were now such that there could be no 
further talk of it. 

I still see myself walking up and down the carpet and boards 
of the old wainscoted room, with its overpowering chandelier, its 
wall cupboards with their wrought-iron hinges, the flat leather 
cushions on the corner bench, and the deep embrasures of the 
windows; walking up and down and holding forth at large about 
Germany, more for myself and certainly more for Schildlmapp 
than for Adrian, from whom I expected no interest Used to 
teaching and to talking, and, when I get warmed up, no bad 
talker, I do not dislike listening to myself and take a certain pleas- 
ure in my command over words. Not without lively gesture I 
challenged Rudiger to set down what I said to the wartime jour- 
nalism which so annoyed him. Surely one might be permitted a 
little psychological participation in the national and even touch- 
ing traits which our otherwise multiform German character was 
evincing in this historic hour. In the last analysis, what we were 
dealing with was the psychology of the break-through. 

“In a nation like ours,” I set forth, “the psychological is always 
the primary and actually motivating, the political action is of the 
second order of importance: reflex, expression, instrument. What 
the break-through to w r orld power, to which fate summons us, 
means at bottom, is the break-through to the world — out of an 
isolation of which we are painfully conscious, and which no vig- 
orous reticulation into wrorld economy has been able to break 
down since the founding of the Reich, The bitter thing is that the 
practical manifestation is an outbreak of war, though its true in- 
terpretation is longing, a thirst for unification.” 

“God bless your studies,” I heard Adrian say here in a low 
voice, with a half-laugh. He had not even glanced up from his 
notes as he quoted the old student tag. 

I remained standing and looked at him; he paid no heed. “You 
mean ” I retorted, “that I am talking nonsense*” 

“Pardon,” he hastily returned. “I lapsed into student lingo, be- 
cause your oratio reminded me so much of our straw-threshmg 



disputes of anno so-and-so — what were the fellows’ names > I no- 
tice I begin to forget them” (he was twenty-nine at the time). 
“Deutschmeyer? Dungersleben 5 ” 

“You mean the redoubtable Deutschlin,” I said; “and there was 
one called Dungersheim. A Hubmeyer and Teutleben there were 
too. You have never had a memory for names. They were good, 
serious chaps.” 

“Certainly, of course. And look here, there was a Schappeler, 
and a socialist named Arzt. What do you say now? You did not 
even belong to their faculty. But today I seem to hear them when 
I hear you. Straw-threshing - by which I only mean once a stu- 
dent, always a student. Academic life keeps one young -and 
critical.” 0 

“You did belong to their faculty,” said I, “and yet you were at 
bottom more a guest than I. Of course, Adri. I was only a student, 
and you may well be right, I am one still. But so much the better 
if the academic keeps one young, if it preserves loyalty to the 
spirit, to free thought, to the higher interpretation of the crude 
event — ” 

“Are we talking about loyalty?” he asked. “I understood that 
Kaisersaschem would like to become a world capital. That is not 
very loyal.” 

“Get along with you,” I cried, “you understood nothing of the 
sort and you understand very well what I meant about the Ger- 
man break-through to the world.” 

“It would not help much if I did understand, for at present, 
anyhow, the crude event will just make our shut-inness and shut- 
offness more complete, however far your military swarm into Eu- 
rope. You see: I cannot go to Paris, you go there instead of me. 
Good too! Between ourselves, I would not have gone anyhow. 
You help me out of an embarrassment — ” 

“The war will be short,” I said in a suppressed voice, for his 
words affected me painfully. “It cannot last long. We pay for the 
swift break-through with a wrong, an acknowledged one, which 
we declare ourselves ready to make good. We must take it on 
ourselves. . . .” 

“And will know how to carry it with dignity,” he broke in. 
“Germany has broad shoulders. And who denies that a real break- 
through is worth what the tame world calls a crime? I hope you 
don’t suppose that I think small" of the idea which it pleases you 
to chew over, in your straw. There is at bottom only one prob- 
lem in the world, and this is its name. How does one break 
through? How does one get into the open? How does one burst 



the cocoon and become a butterfly? The whole situation is domi- 
nated by the question. Here too/’ said he, and twitched the little 
red marker in the volume of Kleist on the table — “here too it 
treats of the break-through, in the capital essay on marionettes, 
and it is called straight out 'the last chapter of the history of the 
world.’ But it is talking only about the aesthetic, charm, free grace, 
which actually is reserved to the automaton and the god, that is, 
to the unconscious or an endless consciousness, whereas every re- 
flection lying between nothing and infinity kills grace. The con- 
sciousness must, this writer thinks, have gone through an infinity 
in order that grace find itself again therein; and Adam must eat a 
second time from the tree of knowledge in order to fall back into 
the state of innocence.” 

“How glad I am,” I put in, “that you have just read that! It is 
gloriously thought, and you are quite right to bring it into con- 
nection with the break-through. But do not say that it is speak- 
ing only of aesthetics, do not say only ! One does wrong to see in 
aesthetics a separate and narrow field of the humane. It is much 
more than that, it is at bottom everything, it attracts or repels, 
the poet attaches to the word ‘grace’ the very widest possible 
meaning. ^Esthetic release or the lack of it is a matter of one’s fate, 
dealing out happiness or unhappiness, companionship or hopeless 
if proud isolation on earth. And one does not need to be a philoio- 
gian to know that what is odious is also what is hated. Craving 
to break through from bondage, to cease being sealed up in the 
odious — tell me that I am straw-threshing again; but I feel, I have 
always felt and will assert against strongly held opposition, that 
this German is kat exochen , profoundly German, the very defini- 
tion of Germanism, of a psychology threatened with envelopment, 
the poison of isolation, provincial boorishness, neurosis, implicit 
Satamsm. ...” 

I broke off. He eyed me, and I believe the colour left his 
cheeks. The look he cast on me was the look, the familiar one 
that made me almost equally unhappy, no matter whether myself 
or another was its object- wordless, veiled, coldly remote to the 
point of offensiveness, followed by the smile with closed lips and 
sneeringly dilating nostrils — and then the turning away. He 
moved away from the table, not toward Schildknapp, but to the 
window niche, where he had hung a saint’s picture on the pan- 
elling. Rudiger talked away. In his opinion, he said, I was to be 
congratulated on going straight into the field, and actually on 
horseback. One should ride into the field or else not go at all. And 
he patted the neck of an imaginary nag. We laughed, and our 



parting when I left for the train was easy and cheerful. Good that 
it was not sentimental, it would have seemed tasteless. But Adri- 
an’s look I earned with me to war - perhaps it was that, and not 
the typhus infection from lice, which brought me home so soon, 
back to his side. 


“You go there instead of me,” Adrian had said. And we did not 
get to Paris Shall I confess that, privately and apart from the his- 
torical point of view, I felt a deep, intimately personal shame? 
Weeks long we had sent home terse, affectedly laconic dispatches, 
dressing our triumphs in cold matter-of-fact. Liege had long since 
fallen, we had won the battle for Lorraine. In accordance with 
‘•he fixed master-plan we had swung with five armies across the 
Meuse, had taken Brussels, Namur, carried the day at Charleroi 
and Longwy, won a second series of battles at Sedan, Rethel, 
Saint-Quentin, and occupied Reims. We advanced as though on 
wings. It was just as we had dreamed: by the favour of the god 
of war, at destiny’s nod, we were borne as on pinions. To gaze 
without flinching at the flames we kindled, could not help kin- 
dling, was incumbent upon our manhood, it was the supreme 
challenge to our heroic courage. I can still see vividly the picture 
of a gaunt Gaulish wife, standing on a height round which our 
battery was moving, at its foot a village lay shattered and smok- 
ing. “I am the last!” she cried, with a gesture of tragic power, 
such as is given to no German woman to make. a Je suis la der- 
mereP ’ Raising her fists, she hurled her curses down on our heads, 
repeating three times: “Mechants! Mechants! MechantsP’’ 

We looked the other way. We had to win, and ours was the 
hard trade of triumph. That I felt wretched enough myself sitting 
my horse, plagued with coughing and the racking pain in my 
limbs due to wet nights under canvas, actually afforded me a cer- 
tain consolation. 

Yet many more villages we shot up, still borne on victory’s 

S unions. Then came the incomprehensible, the apparently sense- 
ess thing: the order to retreat. How should we have understood 
it? We belonged to the army group Hausen, south of Chalons- 
sur-Mame, streaming on to Paris, as the von Kluck group were 
doing at other points. We were ignorant that somewhere, after 
a five-day battle, the French had crushed von Billow’s right wing 


31 * 

— reason enough for the anxious cautiousness of a supreme com- 
mander who had been elevated to his rank on account of his uncle, 
to order a general withdrawal. We passed some of the villages 
that we had left smoking in our rear, and the hill where the tragic 
woman had stood. She was not there. 

The wings were trustless. It should not have been. It had not 
been a war to be won in one swift onslaught. But as little as those 
at home did we understand what that meant. We did not under- 
stand the frantic jubilation of the world over the result of the 
battle of the Marne; over the fact that the short war on which 
our salvation hung had turned into a long one, which we could 
not stand. Our defeat was now only a matter of time, and of cost 
to the foe. We could have laid our weapons down and forced 
our leaders to an immediate peace, if only we had understood. 
But even among them probably only one here and there dared to 
think of it. After all, they had scarcely realized that the age of 
localized war had gone by and that every campaign to which we 
felt ourselves driven must end in a world conflagration. In such 
a one the advantage of the inner line, the fanatical devotion of 
the troops, the high state of preparedness, and a firmly based, 
strong authoritarian state had held out the chance of a lightning 
triumph. If this failed — and it stood written that it must fail — 
then, whatever we might still for years accomplish, we were lost 
in principle and before we began: this time, next time, always. 

We did not know. Slowly the truth tortured its way into us; 
while the war, a rotting, decaying, misery-creating war, though 
from tame to time flaring up in flattering, deceiving successes, 
this war, of which I too had said it must not last long, lasted four 
years. Shall I here and now go into details of that long-drawn-out 
giving way and giving up, the wearing out of our powers and our 
equipment, the shabbiness and shortages of life, the undernourish- 
ment, the loss of morale from the deprivations, -the lapses into dis- 
honesty and the gross luxury of the profiteer? I might well be 
censured for recklessly overstepping the limits of my purpose, 
which is personal and biographical. I lived through it all from the 
beginning to the bitter end in the hinterland, as a man on furlough 
and at length mustered out, given back to his teaching profession 
at Freising. For before Arras, during the second period of strug- 
gle for that fortified place, which lasted from the beginning of 
May until far on in July of 1915, the delousing measures were ob- 
viously inadequate; an infection took me for weeks to the isola- 
tion barracks, then for another month to a convalescent home 
for the sick and wounded in Taunus. At last I no longer resisted 



the idea that I had fufilled my duty to my fatherland and would 
do better to serve in my old place the cause of education. 

That I did, and might once more be husband and father m the 
frugal home, whose walls aud their too familiar contents, spared 
perhaps for destruction by future bombing, today still form the 
frame of my retired and impoverished life. It should be said once 
more, certainly not in any boastful sense, but as a mere statement, 
that I led my own life, without precisely neglecting it, only as it 
were as an aside, with half my attention, with my left hand; that 
my real concern and anxiety were centered upon the existence 
of my childhood fnend, to be back in whose nearness made me 
so rejoice — if the word I use can describe the slight chill, the 
shiver of dread, the painful lack of response which were my por- 
tion from him in the increasingly productive isolation of his life. 
“To have an eye on him,” to watch over his extraordinary and 
puzzling course, always seemed to mine its real and pressing task. 
It made up its true content, and thus it is I speak of the emptiness 
of my present days. 

The place he had elected as his home — “home” in that sense 
I have spoken of, assimilative and not altogether acceptable — 
was a relatively fortunate choice. During the years of approach- 
ing defeat and ever more gnawing stringency, he was, thank God, 
on the Schweigestill farm as tolerably cared for as one could wish, 
without knowledge or appreciation of the state of things, almost 
unaffected by the slowly corroding changes under which our 
blockaded and invested country suffered, even while militarily 
still on the offensive. He took everything as a matter of course, 
without any words, as something that proceeded from him and 
lay in his nature, whose power of inertia and fixation on the 
semper idem persisted in the face of outward circumstance. His 
simple dietary needs the Schweigestill household could always 
satisfy. More than that, and soon after my return from the field, 
he came under the care of two females who had approached him 
quite independently of each other and appointed themselves his 
devotees. These were the damsels Meta Nackedey and Kumgunde 
Rosenstiel: one a piano-teacher, the other an active partner in a 
factory for the production of sausages-cases. It is certainly re- 
markable: a budding reputation such as had begun to attach it- 
self to Leverkuhn’s name is unknown to the general, having its 
seat in the initiate sphere, on the heights or connoisseurship; 
from those heights the invitation to Paris had come. But at the 
same time it may also be reflected in humbler, lowlier regions, in 
the needy souls of poor creatures who stand out from the masses 



through some sensibility of loneliness and suffering dressed up 
as “higher aspirations”; and these may find their happiness m a 
worship still fittingly paid to the rarest values. That it is women, 
and unmarried ones, need not surprise us; for human resignation 
is certainly the source of a prophetic intuition, which is not the 
less estimable because its origins are humble. There was not the 
least question that the immediately personal here played a con- 
siderable role; indeed, it predominated over the intellectual values; 
which even so, in both cases, could only be grasped and estimated 
in vague outline, as a matter of feeling and intuition. I myself, 
speaking as one who early submitted his own head and heart to 
the phenomenon of Adrian's cool and bafflingly self-contained ex- 
istence, have I the smallest right to mock at the fascination which 
his aloneness, the nonconformity of his life, exerted upon these 
women? The Nackedey was a scurrying, deprecating creature, 
some thirty years old, forever dissolving in blushes and modesty, 
who speaking or listening blinked spasmodically and appealingly 
behind the pince-nez she wore, nodding her head and wrinkling 
up her nose. She, one day, when Adrian was in the city, had 
found herself beside him on the front platform of a tram, and 
when she discovered it, had rushed in headless flight through the 
crowd to the rear platform. Then, having collected herself for 
a few minutes, she had gone back, to speak to him by name, to 
tell him, blushing and paling by turns, her own, to add something 
of her circumstances and to say that she held his music sacred — 
to all which he had listened ana then thanked her. Upon this fol- 
lowed their acquaintance, which Meta had certainly not brought 
about in order to let it drop. She paid a visit of homage to Pfeif- 
fering, with a bouquet; and cultivated it from then on, m free 
competition with the Rosenstiel, both sides spurred on by jeal- 
ousy. The Rosenstiel had begun it differently. 

She was a raw-boned Jewess, of about the same age as Nacke- 
dey, with thick, unmanageable woolly hair and brown eyes where 
timeless grief stood written for the daughter of Zion despoiled 
and her people as a forsaken hearth. A capable business woman 
in a not very refined line (for the manufacture of sausage-cases 
has something gross about it, certainly), she had the elegiac habit 
of beginning all her sentences with “ah.” Ah, yes! Ah, no! Ah, 
believe me! Ah, why not? Ah, I will go to Nuremburg tomorrow: 
she would say these things in a deep, harsh, desolate, complain- 
ing voice, and even when asked How are you? she would reply: 
“Ah, very well.” But it was not the same when she wrote, which 
she uncommonly liked to do. For not only was Kunigunde, as 



almost all Jews are, very musical, but also she had, though with- 
out any extensive reading, much purer and more fastidious rela- 
tions with the German language than the national average, yes, 
than most of the learned. She had set m train the acquaintance 
with Adrian, which of her own motion she always called a 
friendship (indeed, in time it did become something like that), 
with an excellent letter, a long, well-turned protestation of de- 
votion, in content not really extraordinary, but stylistically 
formed on the best models of an older, humanistic Germany. The 
recipient read it with a certain surprise, and on account of its 
literary quality it could not possibly be passed over in silence. 
She kept on writing to him at Pfeiffering, quite aside from her 
frequent visits: explicitly, not very objectively, in matter not 
further exciting, but in language very meticulous, clear and read- 
able; not hand-written, moreover, but done on her business type- 
writer, with an ampersand for “and,” expressing a reverence 
which more nearly to define or justify she was either too shy or 
else incapable. It was just reverence, an instinctive reverence 
and devotion preserved loyally throughout many years, you 
simply had to respect such a capital person, quite aside from any 
other capacities she might have. I at least did so, and took pains 
to pay the same silent respect to the elusive Nackedey; whereas 
Adrian simply accepted the tributes and devotion of these fol- 
lowers of his with the utter heedlessness of his nature. And was 
my lot then so different from theirs 5 I can count it to my credit 
that I took pains to be benevolent towards them, while they, 
quite primitively, could not endure each other and when they 
met measured each other with narrowed eyes. In a certain sense 
I was of their guild and might have been justified in feeling irri- 
tation over this reduced and spinsterish reproduction of my own 
relation to Adrian. 

These two, then, coming always with full hands during the 
hunger-years, when he was already well taken care of so far as 
the essentials were concerned, brought him everything imagi- 
nable that could be got hold of in underhand ways: sugar, tea, 
coffee, chocolate, cakes, preserves, tobacco for cigarettes. He 
could make presents to me, to Schildknapp, and to Rudi 
Schwerdtfeger, whose assumption of intimacy never wavered; 
and the names of those devoted women were often called blessed 
among us* As for the cigarettes, Adrian never gave up smoking 
except when forced to on the days when the migraine, with its 
violent attacks like seasickness fell on him, and he kept his bed in 
a darkened room, as happened two or three times in the month. 



Otherwise he could not do without the stimulant and diversion; it 
had become a habit rather late, during his Leipzig time, and now, 
at least during his work, he must, so he said, have the interlude of 
rolling and inhaling else he could not hold out so long. At the 
time when I returned to civil life he was greatly given to the 
habit; and my impression was that he practised it not so much for 
the sake of the Gesta, though this was ostensibly the case, as it 
was because he was trying to put the Gesta behind him and be 
ready for new demands upon his genius. On his horizon, I am 
sure of it, there was already rising — probably since the outbreak 
of war, for a power of divination like his must have recognized 
therein a deep cleft and discontinuity, the opening of a new 
period of history, crowded with tumult and disruptions, agonies 
and wild vicissitudes — on the horizon of his creative life, I say, 
there was already rising the “ Apocalypsis cum figuris the work 
which was to give this life such a dizzying upward surge. Until 
then, so at least I see the process, he was employing the waiting- 
time with the brilliant marionette fantasies. 

Adrian had learned through Schildknapp of the old book that 
passes for the source of most of the romantic myths of the Middle 
Ages. It is a translation from the Latin of the oldest Christian 
collection of fairy-tales and legends. I am quite willing to give 
Adrian’s favourite with the like-coloured eyes due credit for the 
suggestion. They had read it together in the evenings and it ap- 
pealed to Adrian’s sense of the ridiculous, his craving to laugh, yes, 
to laugh until he cried. That was a craving which my less sug- 
gestible nature never knew how to feed, being hampered as well 
by an anxious feeling that all this dissolving in mirth had about it 
something unsuited to a nature I loved even while I feared it. 
Rudiger, the like-eyed, shared my apprehensions not a whit. In- 
deed, I concealed them; they never hindered me from joining 
sincerely in such moods of abandon when they came about. But 
in the Silesian one marked a distinct satisfaction, as though he 
had performed a task, a mission, when he had managed to reduce 
Adrian to tears of laughter; and certainly he succeeded in a most 
fruitful and acceptable way with the old book of fables and jests. 

I am of opinion that the Gesta — in their historical uninstructed- 
ness, pious Christian didacticism, and moral naivete, with their 
eccentric casuistry of parricide, adultery, and complicated incest; 
their undocumented Roman emperors, with daughters whom they 
fantastically guarded and then offered for sale under the most 
hair-splitting conditions — it is not to be denied, I say, that all 
these fables, presented in a solemn Latinizing and indescribably 



naive style of translation, concerning knights in pilgrimage to the 
Promised Land, wanton wives, artful procuresses, clerics given 
to the black arts, do have an extraordinarily diverting effect. They 
were in the highest degree calculated to stimulate Adrian’s 
penchant for parody, and the thought of dramatizing them musi- 
cally m condensed form for the puppet theatre occupied him 
from the day he made their acquaintance. There is for instance 
the fundamentally unmoral fable, anticipating the Decameron, 
“of the godless guile of old women,” wherein an accomplice of 
guilty passion, under a mask of sanctity succeeds in persuading a 
noble and even exceptionally decent and honourable wife, while 
her confiding husband is gone on a journey, that she is sinfully 
minded to a youth who is consumed with desire for her. The 
witch makes her little bitch fast for two days, and then gives it 
bread spread with mustard to eat, which causes the little animal 
to shed copious tears. Then she takes it to the virtuous lady, who 
receives her respectfully, since everybody supposes she is a saint. 
But when the lady looks at the weeping little bitch and asks in 
surprise what causes its tears, the old woman behaves as though 
she would rather not answer. When pressed to speak, she con- 
fesses that this little dog is actually her own all-too-chaste 
daughter, who by reason of the unbending denial of her favour 
to a young man on fire for her had driven him to his death; and 
now, in punishment therefor, she has been turned into this shape 
and of course constantly weeps tears of despair over her doggish 
estate. Telling these deliberate lies, the procuress weeps too, but 
the lady is horrified at the thought of the similarity of her own 
case with that of the little dog and tells the old woman of the 
youth who suffers for her. Thereupon the woman puts it seriously 
before her what an irretrievable pity it would be if she too were 
to be turned into a little dog; and is then commissioned to fetch 
the groaning suitor that in God’s name he may cool his lust, so 
that the two at the instance of a godless trick celebrate the sweet- 
est adultery. 

I still envy Rudiger for having been the first to read aloud this 
tale to our friend, in the Abbot’s room; although I confess that 
if it had been myself the effect might not have been the same. 
Moreover his contribution to the future work was limited to this 
first stimulation. When the point was reached of preparing the 
fables for the puppet stage, the casting of them in dialogue form, 
he refused his offices, for lack of time, or out of his well-known 
refractory sense of freedom. Adrian did not take it ill of him, but 
did what he could by himself for as long as I was away, sketch- 



ing in the scenarios freely and more or less the dialogue, after 
which it was I who in my spare time quickly gave them their final 
form in mixed prose and rhymed lines. 

The singers who according to Adrian’s plan lend their voices 
to the acting puppets had to be given their places among the in- 
struments in the orchestra, a very small one, composed of violin 
and double-bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, and trombone, with 
percussion for one man, and a set of bells. With them is a speaker 
who, like the testis in the oratorio, condenses the plot in narra- 
tion and recitative. 

This loose treatment is most successful in the fifth, the real 
kernel of the suite, the tale “Of the Birth of the Holy Pope Greg- 
ory,” a birth whose sinful singularity is by no means the end of 
the story; and all the shocking “circumstances accompanying the 
hero’s life not only are no hindrance to his final elevation to be 
the Vice-Gerent of Christ on earth, but make him, by God’s 
peculiar favour, called and destined to that seat. The chain of 
complications is long, and I may as well relate in this place the 
history of the royal and orphaned brother-sister pair: the brother 
who loved the sister more than he should, so that he loses his head 
and puts her into a more than interesting condition, for he makes 
her the mother of a boy of extraordinary beauty. It is this boy, 
a brother-sister child in all the ill meaning of the word, about 
whom everything turns. The father seeks to do penance by a cru- 
sade to the Holy Land, and there finds his death; the child presses 
on toward uncertain destinies. For the Queen, resolved not to 
have the infant so monstrously begot baptized on her own re- 
sponsibility, puts him and his princely cradle into a cask and en- 
trusts him, not without a tablet of instructions and gold and silver 
for his upbringing, to the waves of the sea, which bring him “on 
the sixth feast-day” to the neighbourhood of a cloister presided 
over by a pious Abbot. The Abbot finds him, baptizes him with 
his own name, Gregory, and gives him an education perfectly 
suited to the lad’s unusual physical and mental endowments. 
Meanwhile the sinful mother, to the regret of her whole realm, 
makes a vow not to marry, quite obviously not only because she 
regards herself as unconsecrate and unworthy of a Christian mar- 
riage but because she still cherishes a shameful loyalty to the de- 
parted brother. A powerful Duke of a foreign land seeks her 
hand, which she refuses; he is so wroth that he lays siege to her 
kingdom, overruns and conquers it, all but a single fortified city 
into which she retires. Now the youth Gregory, having learned 
of his origins, thinks to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre; 


3 j 8 

but instead arrives by chance in his mother’s city, where he learns 
of the misfortune of the head of the kingdom, has himself brought 
before her, and offers her, who as the story says “looks at him 
sharply” but does not know him, his services. He conquers the 
cruel Duke, frees the country, and is proposed by her retainers to 
the liberated Queen as her husband. She is indeed somewhat coy 
and asks for a day — only one — to think it over, and then against 
her oath she consents, so that, with the greatest approval and jubi- 
lation of the whole country, the marriage takes place and fright- 
ful is unsuspectingly heaped upon frightful, when the son of sin 
mounts the marriage bed with his own mother. I will not go 
further into all that; all I want is to describe the heavily emotional 
climax of the plot, which in the puppet theatre comes into its own 
in so surprising and admirable a way. At the very beginning the 
brother asks the sister why she looks so pale and “why the upper 
part of thine eyelids darken”; and she answers him: “It is no won- 
der, for I am with child and indeed full of remorse.” When the 
news comes that her smful brother-husband is dead she breaks out 
in the remarkable lament: “Gone is my hope, gone is my strength, 
my only brother, my second I!” and then covers the corpse with 
kisses from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head, so that 
her knights, unpleasantly impressed with such exaggerated grief, 
see themselves constrained to tear their sovereign lady away from 
the dead. Or when she becomes aware with whom she lives in 
tender wedded love, and says to him: “O my sweet son, thou art 
my only child, thou art my spouse and lord, thou art mine and 
my brother’s son, O my sweet child, and O thou my God, why 
hast thou let me be bom'” For so it is: by means of the tablet she 
had once written with her own hand, which she finds in the pri- 
vate chamber of her husband, she learns with whom she shares her 
couch, thank God without having borne him another brother and 
grandson of her brother. And now it is his turn to think of a 

B nitential pilgrimage, which he straightway barefoot undertakes. 

e comes to a fisherman who, “by the fineness of his limbs,” rec- 
ognizes that he has no ordinary traveller before him, and the two 
agree that the utmost isolation is the only fitting thing. He rows 
him out sixteen miles into the ocean, to a rock where great seas 
suige, and there, chains being laid to his feet and the key thereof 
flung into the waves, Gregory spends seventeen years doing pen- 
ance. At the end of this period there comes overwhelming, but 
to himself, it seems, scarce surprising favour and exaltation. For 
the Pope dies in Rome, and hardly is he dead when there comes 
down a voice from heaven: “Seek out Gregory the man of God 



and set him up as My vicar on earth' ” Then messengers haste in 
all directions and arrive at the place of that fisherman, who be- 
thinks himself. Then he catches a fish, in whose belly he finds the 
key once sunk m the depths of the sea. He rows the messengers 
to the stone of penance and they cry up to it: “O Gregory, thou 
man of God, come down to us from the stone, for God wills for 
thee to be set up for His vicar upon earth! ” And what does he an- 
swer them 5 “If that please God,” he says calmly, “may His will 
be done!” But as he comes to Rome and when the bells are to be 
rung, they do not wait but ring of themselves, all the bells ring of 
their own accord, in witness to the fact that so pious and edify- 
ing a pope had never been before. And the holy man’s fame 
reaches his mother, and she rightly decides that her life can be 
better entrusted to no one else than to this chosen one; so she de- 
parts for Rome to confess to the Holy Father, who, as he receives 
her confession, recognizes her and says: “O my sweet mother, 
sister, and wife, O my friend! The Devil thought to lead us to 
hell, but the greater power of God has prevented him.” And he 
builds her a cloister where she rules as Abbess, but only for a short 
time. For it is soon vouchsafed to them both to render up their 
souls to God. 

Upon this extravagantly sinful, simple, and appealing tale 
then, did Adrian concentrate all the possible wit and terror, all 
the childlike fervour, fantasy, and solemnity of musical presenta- 
tion, and probably one may apply to the whole production, but 
above all to this particular tale, the singular invention of the old 
Lubeck professor, the word “God-witted.” The memory comes 
back to me, because the Gesta actually show something like a re- 
turn to the musical style of Love's Labour's Lost , while the tone 
language of the Marvels of the Universe leans more to that of the 
Apocalypse or even the Faust. Such anticipations and overlappings 
often occur in creative life, but I can explain to myself the artistic 
attraction which this material had for my friend: it was an intel- 
lectual charm, not without a trace of malice and solvent travesty, 
springing as it did from a critical rebound after the swollen pom- 
posity of an art epoch nearing its end. The musical drama had 
taken its materials from the romantic sagas, the myth-world of 
the Middle Ages, and thus suggested that only such subjects were 
worthy of music, or suited to its nature. Here the conclusion 
seemed to be drawn; in a right destructive way, indeed, in that 
the bizarre, and particularly the farcically erotic, takes the place 
of the moralizing and priestly, aU inflated pomp of production is 
rejected and the action transferred to the puppet theatre, in it- 


3 2 ° 

self already burlesque. Adrian was at pains when he was at work 
on the Gesta to study the specific possibilities of the puppet play; 
and the Catholic-baroque popular fondness for the theatre, which 
was rife in the region where he led his hermit life, afforded him 
opportunity. Close by, in Waldshut, lived a druggist who carved 
and dressed marionettes, and Adrian repeatedly visited the man. 
He also travelled to Mittenwald, the fiddle village in the valley of 
the upper Isar, where the apothecary was an amateur of the same 
art and with the help of nis wife and his clever sons produced 
puppet plays after Pocci and Christian Winter in the town, at- 
tracting large audiences of townsfolk and strangers. Leverkuhn 
saw and studied these too; also, as I noticed, the very ingenious 
hand puppets and shadow-plays of the Javanese. 

Those were enjoyable and stimulating evenings when he played 
for us — that is, to me, Schildknapp, and very likely Rudi 
Schwerdtfeger, who persisted in being present now and then — 
on the old square piano in the deep-windowed room with the 
Nike, the latest-wntten parts of his amazing scores, in which the 
harmonically most dominating, the rhythmically labyrinthine 
was applied to the simplest material, and again a sort of musical 
children’s trumpet style to the most extraordinary. The meeting 
of the Queen with the holy man whom she had borne to her 
brother, and whom she had embraced as spouse, charmed tears 
from us such as had never filled our eyes, uniquely mingled of 
laughter and fantastic sensibility. Schwerdtfeger, m abandoned 
familiarity, availed himself of the licence of the moment: with a 
“You’ve done it magnificently!” embraced Adrian and pressed 
him to his heart. I saw Rudiger’s mouth, always a bitter one, give 
a wry twist and could not myself resist murmuring: “Enough!” 
and putting out my hand to quench the unquenchable and re- 
strain the unrestrained. 

Rudolf may have had some trouble in following the conversa- 
tion that ensued after the private performance in the Abbot’s 
room. We spoke of the union of the advanced with the popular, 
the closing of the gulf between art and accessibility, high and low, 
as once in a certain sense it had been brought about by the roman- 
tic movement, literary and musical. But after that had followed a 
new and deeper cleavage and alienation between the good and the 
easy, the worth-while and the entertaining, the advanced and the 
generally enjoyable, which has become the destiny of art. Was 
it sentimentality to say that music — and she stood for them all — 
demanded with growing consciousness to step out of her digni- 
fied isolation, to find common ground without becoming com- 



mon, and to speak a language which even the musically untaught 
could understand, as it understood the Wolf’s Glen and the Jung- 
femkranz and Wagner 5 Anyhow, sentimentality was not the 
means to this end, but instead and much sooner irony, mockery; 
which, clearing the air, made an opposing party against the ro- 
mantic, against pathos and prophecy, sound-intoxication and lit- 
erature and a bond with the objective and elemental — that is, 
with the rediscovery of music itself as an organization of time. 
A most precarious start. For how near did not he the false primi- 
tive, and thus the romantic again! To remain on the height of in- 
tellect, to resolve into the matter-of-course the most exclusive 
productions of European musical development, so that everybody 
could grasp the new; to make themselves its master, applying it 
unconcernedly as free building material and making tradition felt, 
recoined into the opposite of the epigonal; to make technique, 
however high it had climbed, entirely unimportant, and all the 
arts of counterpoint and instrumentation to disappear and melt 
together to an effect of simplicity very far from simplicity, an 
intellectually winged simplicity — that seemed to be the object 
and the craving of art. 

It was mostly Adrian who talked, only slightly seconded by us. 
Excited by the playing, he spoke with flushed cheeks and hot 
eyes, slightly feverish; not in a steady stream but more as just 
throwing out remarks, yet with so much animation that I felt 
I had never seen him, either in mine or in Rudiger’s presence, so 
eloquently taken out of himself. Schildknapp had given expres- 
sion to his disbelief in the deromanticizing of music. Music was 
after all too deeply and essentially bound up with the romantic 
ever to reject it without serious natural damage to itself. To 
which Adrian: 

“I will gladly agree with you, if you mean by the romantic a 
warmth of feeling which music in the service of technical intel- 
lectuality today rejects. It is probably self-denial. But what we 
called the purification of the complicated into the simple is at bot- 
tom the same as the winning back of the vital and the power of 
feeling. If it were possible — whoever succeeded in — how would 
you say it?” he turned to me and then answered himself: “ — the 
break-through, you would say; whoever succeeded in the break- 
through from intellectual coldness into a touch-and-go world of 
new feeling, him one should call the saviour of art. Redemption,” 
he went on, with a nervous shoulder-shrug, “a romantic word, 
and a harmonic writer’s word, shop talk for the cadence-blissful- 
ness of harmonic music. Isn’t it amusing that music for a long 




time considered herself a means of release, whereas she herself, like 
all the arts, needed to be redeemed from a pompous isolation, 
which was the fruit of the culture-emancipation, the elevation of 
culture as a substitute for religion — from being alone with an 
elite of culture, called the public, which soon will no longer be, 
which even now no longer is, so that soon art will be entirely 
alone, alone to die, unless she were to find her way to the folk, 
that is, to say it unromantically, to human beings?” 

He said and asked that all in one breath in a lowered, conversa- 
tional tone, but with a concealed tremor which one understood 
only when he finished 

“The whole temper of art, believe me, will change, and withal 
into the blither and more modest, it is inevitable, and it is a good 
thing. Much melancholy ambition will fall away from her, and a 
new innocence, yes, harmlessness will be hers. The future will see 
m her, she herself will once more see in herself, the servant of a 
community which will comprise far more than ‘education’ and 
will not have culture but will perhaps be a culture. We can only 
with difficulty imagine such a thing; and yet it will be, and be the 
natural thing an art without anguish, psychologically healthy, 
not solemn, unsadly confiding, an art per du with humanity. . . 

He broke off, and we all three sat silent and shaken. It is pain- 
ful and heart-stirring at once to hear talk of isolation from the 
community, remoteness from trust. With all my emotion I was 
yet m my deepest soul unsatisfied with his utterance, directly dis- 
satisfied with him. What he had said did not fit with him, his 
pride, his arrogance if you like, which I loved, and to which art 
has a right. Art is mind, and mind does not at all need to feel it- 
self obligated to the community, to society — it may not, in my 
view, for the sake of its freedom, its nobility. An art that “goes 
in unto” the folk, which makes her own the needs of the crowd, 
of the little man, of small minds, arrives at wretchedness, and to 
make it her duty is the worst small-mindedness, and the murder 
of mind and spirit. And it is my conviction that mind, in its most 
audacious, unrestrained advance and researches, can, however un- 
suited to the masses, be certain in some indirect way to serve man 
— m the long run men. 

Doubtless that was also the natural opinion of Adrian. But it 
pleased him to deny it, and I was very much mistaken if I looked 
at that as a contradiction of his arrogance. More likely it was an 
effort to condescend, springing from the same arrogance. If only 
there had not been that trembling in his voice when he spoke of 


the need of art to be redeemed, of art being per du with human- 
ity. That was feeling despite everything it tempted me to give 
his hand a stolen pressure. But I did not do so, instead I kept 
an eye on Rudi Schwerdtfeger lest he again be moved to em- 
brace him* 


Inez Rodde’s marriage to Professor Dr. Helmut Institoris took 
place at the beginning of the war, when the country was still in 
good condition and strong in hope, and I myself still in the field, 
in the spring of 1915. It went off with all the proper bourgeois 
flourishes: ceremonies civil and religious and a wedding dinner in 
the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, after which the young pair left for 
Dresden and the Saxon Switzerland. Such was the outcome of a 
long probation on both sides, which had evidently led to the con- 
clusion that they were suited to each other. The reader will note 
the irony which I, truly without malice, express in the word “evi- 
dently,” for such a condition either did not exist or else had ex- 
isted from the beginning, and no development had occurred in 
the relations between the two since Helmut had first approached 
the daughter of the deceased Senator. What on both sides spoke 
for the union did so at the moment of betrothal and marriage no 
more and no less than it had in the beginning, and nothing new 
had been added. But the classic adage: “Look before you leap” 
had been formally complied with, and the very length of the test, 
added to the pressure due to the war, seemed finally to demand a 
positive solution. Indeed, it had ripened in haste several other un- 
settled affairs. Inez’s consent, however, which she — on psycho- 
logical or shall I say material grounds, that is to say for common- 
sense reasons — had always been more or less ready to give, had 
been the readier because Clarissa, toward the end of the previous 
year, had left Munich and entered on her first engagement in 
Celle on the Aller, so that her sister was left alone with a mother 
of whose bohemian leanings, tame as they were, she disapproved. 

The Frau Senator, of course, felt a joyous satisfaction with 
the good bourgeois settlement her child was making, to which she 
had materially contributed by the entertaining she did and the 
.social activities of her home. At her own expense she had thereby 
served the easy-going “south-German” love of life, which was 
her way of making up for what she had lost, and had her fading 
charms paid court to by the men she invited, Knoterich, Kranich, 



Zink and Spengler, the young dramatic students, and so on. Yes, I 
do not go too far, perhaps in the end only just far enough, when 
I say that even with Rudi Schwerdtfeger she was on a jesting, 
teasing travesty of a mother-and-son footing. Uncommonly often 
when she talked with him her familiar affected cooing laugh 
could be heard. But after all I have intimated or rather expressed 
about Inez’s inner life, I can leave it to the reader to imagine the 
mingled distaste and embarrassment that she felt at the sight of 
her mother’s philandering. It has happened in my presence that 
during such a scene she left the drawing-room with flushed cheeks 
and shut herself in her room, at whose door after a quarter of an 
hour, as she had probably hoped and expected, Rudolf knocked 
to ask why she had gone away. Surely he knew the answer to his 
question; as surely it could not be put in words. He would tell 
her how much her presence was missed and coax her in all the 
tender notes in his voice, including of course the brotherly ones, 
to come back. He would not rest until she promised — perhaps 
not with him, she would not quite do that, but a little while after 
him — to return to the company. 

I may be pardoned for adding this supplement, which impressed 
itself on my memory, though it had been comfortably dropped 
out of Frau Senator Rodde’s now that Inez’s betrothal and mar- 
riage were accomplished fact. She had provided the wedding with 
due pomp and circumstance, and in the absence of any consider- 
able dowry had not failed to supply a proper equipment of linen 
and silver. She even parted with various pieces of furniture from 
former days, such as carved chests and this or that gilt “occa- 
sional chair,” to contribute to the furnishings of the imposing new 
home which the young pair had rented in Prinzregentenstrasse, 
two flights up, looking out on the English Garden. Yes, as though 
to prove to herself and others that her social undertakings and all 
the lively evenings in her drawing-room had really only served 
to further her daughters’ prospects of happiness and settlement in 
life, she now expressed a distinct wish to retire, an inclination to 
withdraw from the world. She no longer entertained, and a year 
after Inez’s marriage she gave up her apartment in the Ramberg- 
strasse and put her widowed existence upon an altered footing. 
She moved out to Pfeiffering, where almost without Adrian being 
aware of it she took up her residence in the low building on the 
square opposite the Schweigestill courtyard, with the chestnuts 
in front of it, where formerly the painter of the melancholy land- 
scapes of die Waldshut moors had had his quarters. 

It is remarkable what charm this modest yet picturesque comer 



of the earth possessed for every sort of distinguished resignation 
or bruised humanity. Perhaps the explanation lay in the character 
of the proprietors and especially in that of the stout-hearted land- 
lady Frau Else Schweigestill and her power of “understanding.” 
She was amazingly clear-sighted, and she displayed her gift m oc- 
casional talk with Adrian, as when she told him that the Frau 
Senator was moving in across the road. “It’s pretty plain to see,” 
she said in her peasant singsong, “easy as an’thing, I see it with 
half an eye, Herr Leverkuhn, eh! — she got out of conceit with 
city folk’s doings and lady and gentleman manners and ways, be- 
cause she feels her age and she’s singin’ small, it takes different 
people different ways, I mean, eh, some don’t care a hoot, they 
brazen it out and they look good too, they just get more restless 
and roguish, eh, and put on false fronts and make ringlets of their 
white hairs maybe and so on and so forth, real peart, and don’t do 
any more like they used to, and act audacious and it often takes 
the men more than you’d think, eh, but with some that don’t go, 
and don’t do, so when their cheeks fall m and their necks get 
scrawny like a hen and nothin’ to do for the teeth when you 
laugh, so they can’t hold out, and grieve at their looks in the glass 
and act like a sick cat and hide away, and when ’taint the neck 
and the teeth, then it’s the hair, eh, and with this one it’s the hair’s 
the worst, I could tell right off, otherways it’s not so bad, none 
of it, but the hair, it’s goin’ on top, eh, so the part’s gone to rack 
and ruin and she can’t do an’thin’ any more with the tongs, and 
so she’s struck all of a heap, for it’s a great pain, believe me, and 
so she just gives up the ghost eh, and moves out in the country, 
to Schweigestills’, and that’s all ’tis.” 

Thus the mother, with her smoothly drawn hair, just lightly 
silvered, with the parting in the middle showing the white skin. 
Adrian, as I said, was little affected by the advent of the lodger 
over the way, who, when she first visited the house, was brought 
by their landlady to greet him. Then out of respect for his work 
she matched his reserve with her own and only once just at first 
had him for tea with her, in the two simple whitewashed low- 
ceiled rooms on the ground floor, behind the chestnut trees, fur- 
nished quaintly enough with the elegant bourgeois relics of her 
former household, the candelabra, the stuffed easy-chairs, the 
Golden Horn in its heavy frame, the grand piano with the bro- 
caded scarf. From then on, meeting in the village or on their 
walks, they simply exchanged friendly greetings or stopped a few 
minutes to chat about the sad state of the country and the grow- 
ing food shortages in the cities. Out here one suffered much less. 



so that the retirement of the Frau Senator had a practical justifi- 
cation and even became a genuine interest, for it enabled her to 
provide her daughters and also former friends of the house, like 
the Knotenchs, with supplies from Pfeiffering: eggs, butter, flour, 
sausages, and so on. During the worst years she made quite a busi- 
ness out of packing and posting provisions The Knotenchs had 
taken over Inez Rodde, now rich and settled and well wadded 
against life, into their own social circle from the little group who 
had attended her mother’s evenings. They also invited the numis- 
matist Dr. Kranich, Schildknapp, Rudi Schwerdtfeger, and my- 
self; but not Zink and Spengler, nor the little theatre people who 
had been Clarissa’s colleagues. Instead their other guests were 
from university circles, or older and younger teachers of the two 
academies and their wives. With the Spanish-exotic Frau Knot- 
ench, Natalie, Inez was on friendly or even intimate terms, this 
although the really attractive woman had the reputation, pretty 
well confirmed, of being a morphine addict; a rumour that -was 
justified by my observation of the speaking brilliance of her eyes 
at the beginning of an evening and her occasional disappearance 
m order to refresh her gradually waning spirits. I saw that Inez, 
who set such store by patrician dignity and conservative pro- 
priety, who indeed had only married to gratify those tastes, chose 
to go about with Natalie rather than with the staid spouses of her 
husband’s colleagues, the typical German professors’ wives. She 
even visited and received Natalie alone. And thus was revealed to 
me anew the split in her nature, the fact that despite her nos- 
talgia for it, the bourgeois life had no real viability for her. 

That she did not love her husband, that rather limited teacher 
of aesthetics, wrapped in his dreams of beauty and brutality, I 
could not doubt. It was a conscious love of respectability that she 
devoted to him, and so much is true, that she upheld with con- 
summate distinction, refined yet more by her expression of deli- 
cate and fastidious roguishness, her husband’s station in life. Her 
meticulous conduct of his household and his social activities might 
even be called pedantic; and she achieved it under economic con- 
ditions which year by year made it harder and harder to sustain 
the standards of bourgeois correctness. To aid her in the care of 
the handsome and expensive apartment with its Persian rugs and 
shining parquetry floors she had two well-trained maidservants, 
dressed very comrne il faut in little caps and starched apron- 
strings. One of them served her as lady’s maid. To ring for this 
Sophie was her passion. She did it all the rime, to enjoy the aris- 
tocratic service and assure herself of the protection and care she 



had bought with her marriage. It was Sophie who had to pack the 
numberless trunks and boxes she took with her when she went to 
the country with Institoris, to Tegemsee or Berchtesgaden, if 
only for a few days. These mountains of luggage with which she 
weighed herself down at every smallest excursion out of her nest 
were to me likewise symbolic of her need of protection and her 
fear of life. 

I must describe a little more particularly the immaculate eight- 
roomed apartment in the Prinzregentenstrasse. It had two draw- 
ing-rooms, one of which, more intimately furnished, served as 
family living-room, a spacious dining-room in carved oak, and a 
gentlemen’s den and smoking-room supplied with leather-uphol- 
stered comfort. The sleeping-room of the married pair had twin 
beds with a semblance of a tester in polished yellow pear-wood 
above them. On the toilette-table the glittering bottles, the silver 
tools were ranged in rows according to size. All this was a pat- 
tern, one which still survived for some years into the period of 
disintegration: a pattern establishment of German bourgeois cul- 
ture, not least by virtue of the “good books” you found every- 
where in living- and reception-rooms. The collection, on grounds 
partly representative, partly psychological, avoided the exciting 
and disturbing. It was dignified and cultured, with the histories of 
Leopold von Ranke, the works of Gregorovius, art histories, Ger- 
man and French classics — in short, the solid and conservative — 
as its foundation. With the years the apartment grew more beau- 
tiful, or at least fuller and more elaborate; for Dr. Institoris knew 
this or that Munich artist of the more conservative Glaspalast 
school. His taste in art, despite all his theoretic espousal of the 
gorgeous and barbaric, was decidedly tame. In particular there 
was a certain Nottebohm, a native of Hamburg, married, hollow- 
cheeked, with a pointed beard; a droll man, clever at frightfully 
funny imitations of actors, animals, musical instruments, and pro- 
fessors, a patron of the now declining carnival festival, as a por- 
traitist clever at the social technique of catching subjects and as 
an artist, I may say, possessing a glossy and inferior painting style. 
Institoris, accustomed to professional familiarity with master- 
pieces, either did not distinguish between them and deft medioc- 
rity, or else he thought his commissions were a due of friendship, 
or else he asked nothing better than the refined and inoffensive 
for the adornment of his walls. Therein doubtless he was sup- 

S rted by his wife, if not on grounds of taste, then as a matter of 
sling. So they both had themselves done for good money by 
Nottebohm, very like and not at all speaking portraits, each alone 



and both together; and later, when children came, the funny man 
made a life-size family group of all the Institorises, a collection of 
wooden dolls, on the respectable canvas of which a great deal of 
highly varnished oil paint had been expended. All these adorned 
the reception-rooms, in rich frames, provided with their own in- 
dividual electric lighting above and below. 

When children came, I said. For children did come; and with 
what address, what persistent, one might almost say heroic ignor- 
ing of circumstances less and less favourable to the patrician and 
bourgeois were they cared for and brought up — for a world, one 
might say, as it had been and not as it was to become. At the end 
of 1915 Inez presented her husband with a small daughter, named 
Lucrezia, begot in the polished yellow bedstead with the tester, 
next to the symmetrically ranged silver implements on the toilette- 
table. Inez declared at once that she intended to make of her a 
perfectly brought-up young girl, une jeune fille accomplie, she 
said in her Karlsruhe French. Two years later came twins, also 
female; they were christened Aennchen and Riekchen, with the 
same correct pomp and ceremony, at home, with chocolate, port 
wine, and dragees. The christening basin was silver, with a gar- 
land of flowers. All three were fair, charmingly pampered, lisping 
little beings, concerned about their frocks and sashes, obviously 
under pressure from the mother’s perfection-compulsion. They 
were sensitive-plants grown in the shade, pathetically taken up 
with themselves. They spent their early days in costly bassinets 
with silk curtains, and were taken out to drive in little go-carts 
of the most elegant construction, with rubber wheels, under the 
lime trees of the Prinzregentenstrasse. They had a wet-nurse from 
“the people,” decked out in the traditional costume and ribbons 
like a lamb 1 for the sacrifice. Inez did not nurse her children her- 
self, the family doctor having advised against it. Later a Fraulein, 
a trained kindergarten teacher, took charge of them. The light, 
bright room where they grew up, where their little beds stood, 
where Inez visited them whenever the claims of the household 
and her own person permitted, had a frieze of fairy-stories round 
the walls, fabulous dwarf furniture, a gay linoleum-covered floor, 
and a world of well-ordered toys, teddy-bears, lambs on wheels, 
jumping-jacks, Kathe Kruse dolls, railway trains, on shelves along 
the walls —in short, it was the very pattern of a children’s para- 
dise, correct in every detail. 

Must I say now, or repeat, that with all this correctness things 
were by no means correct, that they rested on self-will, not to 
say on a lie, and were not only more and more challenged from 



without, but for the sharper eye, the eye sharpened by sympathy, 
were crumbling within, they gave no happiness, neither were they 
truly believed m or willed 11 All this good fortune and good taste 
always seemed to me a conscious denial and whitewashing of the 
problem. It was m strange contradiction to Inez’s cult of suffer- 
ing, and in my opinion the woman was too shrewd not to see that 
the ideal little bourgeois brood which she had wilfully made of 
her children was the expression and over-all correction of the 
fact that she did not love them, but saw in them the fruits of a 
connection she had entered into with a bad conscience as a 
woman and in which she lived with physical repulsion. 

Good God, it was certainly no intoxicating bliss for a woman 
to go to bed with Helmut Institoris! So much I understand of 
feminine dreams and demands; and I always had to imagine that 
Inez had merely tolerated receiving her children from him, out of 
a sense of duty and so to speak with her head turned away. For 
they were his, the looks of all three left no doubt of that, the 
likeness with him being much stronger than that with the mother, 
possibly because her psychological participation when she con- 
ceived them had been so slight. And I would in no way impugn 
the masculine honour of the little man. He was certainly a whole 
man, even in a manikin edition, and through him Inez learned de- 
sire — a hapless desire, a shallow soil whereon her passion was to 
spring up and grow rank. 

I have said that Institoris, when he began to woo the maiden 
Inez, had actually done so for another. And so it was now too: as 
a husband he was only the awakener of errant longings, of a half- 
experience of joy at bottom only frustrating, which demanded 
fulfilment, confirmation, satisfaction, and made the pain she suf- 
fered on Rudi Schwerdtfeger’s account, which she had so 
strangely revealed to me, flare up into passion. It is quite clear: 
when she was the object of courtship she began distressfully to 
think of him; as disillusioned wife she fell in love with him, in full 
consciousness and with utter abandonment to feeling and desire. 
And there can be no doubt that the young man could not avoid 
responding to this feeling towards him, coming as it did from a 
suffering and spiritually superior being. I had almost said it would 
have been “still finer” if he had not listened to it— and I could 
hear her sister’s “Hop, man, hop, what’s the matter with you — 
jump upf” Again, I am not writing a novel, and I do not claim 
the writer’s omniscient eye, penetrating into the dramatic devel- 
opment of an affair hidden from all the rest of the world. But so 
much is certain: that Rudolf, driven into a comer, quite involun- 



tarily and with a “What shall I do?” obeyed that haughty com- 
mand, and I can very well imagine how ms passion for flirtation, 
in the beginning a harmless amusement, betrayed him into situa- 
tions more and more exciting and enflammg, ending in a liaison, 
which without this tendency of his to play with fire, he could 
have avoided. 

In other words, under cover of the bourgeois propriety she had 
so nostalgically longed for as a refuge, Inez Institons lived in 
adultery with a man in years, a youth in mental constitution and 
behaviour, a ladies’ pet who made her suffer and doubt, just as a 
frivolous woman will cause anguish to a serious and loving man. 
In his arms then, her senses, aroused by an unloving marriage, 
found satisfaction. She lived thus for years, from a time which if 
I am right was not long after her marriage up to the end of the 
decade; and when she no longer so lived, it was because he whom 
she sought with all her strength to hold escaped her. It was she 
who, while playing the part of exemplary housewife and mother, 
managed the affair, manipulated and concealed the daily artifices 
and the double life, which naturally gnawed at her nerves and 
terrified her by threatening the precarious loveliness of her looks: 
for instance, it deepened the two furrows between her blond 
brows until she looked almost maniacal. And then, despite all the 
caution, cunning, and self-control used to hide such devious ways 
from society’s eyes, the will to do so is never, on either side, 
quite clear or consistent. As for the man, of course it must flatter 
him if his good fortune is at least suspected; while for the 
woman it is a point of secret sexual pride to have it guessed that 
she need not content herself with tne caresses, by nobody very 
highly rated, of her husband. So I scarcely deceive myself when 
I assume that knowledge of Inez Institoris’s side-slip was fairly 
widespread in her Munich circle, although I have never, except 
with Adrian Leverkuhn, exchanged a word with anybody on the 
subject. Yes, I would go so far as to reckon with the possibility 
that Helmut himself knew the truth: a certain admixture of cul- 
tured decency, deprecating and regretful toleration, and — love of 
peace, speaks for the supposition, and it does happen far from 
seldom that society takes the spouse for the only blind one, while 
he thinks that except for himself no one knows anything. This is 
the comment of an elderly man who has observed life. 

I had not the impression that Inez troubled herself overmuch 
about what people knew. She did her best to prevent their know- 
ing, but that was more to preserve the convenances; whoever 
actually must know, let them, so long as they left her alone. Pas- 



told: ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ I know He includes the 
punishment in the sin and saturates it therewith so that one can- 
not be distinguished from the other and happiness and punish- 
ment are the same. You must suffer very much. Would I sit here 
if I were constituted a moral judge over you 5 That I fear for 
you I do not deny. But I would have kept that to myself if not 
for your question whether I blame you.” 

“What is suffering, what fear and humiliating danger,” said 
she, “in comparison with the one sweet, indispensable triumph, 
without which one would not live: to hold to its better self that 
frivolous, evasive, worldly, torturing, irresponsible charmingness, 
which yet has true human value; to drive its flippancy to serious 
feeling, to possess the elusive, and at last, at last, not only once 
but for confirmation and reassurance never often enough, to see 
it in the state that suits its worth, the state of devotion, of deep 
suspiring passion!” 

I do not say the woman used exactly these words, but she ex- 
pressed herself in very like ones. She was well read, accustomed to 
articulate her inner life in speech; as a girl she had even attempted 
verse. What she said had a cultured precision and something of 
the boldness that always arises when language tries seriously to 
achieve feeling and life, to make them first truly live, to exhaust 
them in it. This is no everyday effort, but a product of emotion, 
and in so far feeling and mind are related, but also in so far mind 
gets its thrilling effect. As she went on speaking, seldom listen- 
ing, with half an ear, to what I threw in, her words, I must 
frankly say, were soaked in a sensual bliss that makes me scruple 
to report them directly. Sympathy, discretion, human reverence 
prevent me, and also, maybe, a philistine reluctance to impose 
anything so painful upon the reader. She repeated herself often 
in a compulsive effort to express in better terms what she had al- 
ready said without in her opinion doing it justice. And always 
there was this curious equation of worthiness with sensual passion, 
this fixed and strangely drunken idea that inward worthiness 
could only fulfil itself, realize itself, in fleshly desire, which ob- 
viously was something of like value with “worth”; that it was at 
once the highest and the most indispensable happiness to keep 
them together. I cannot describe the glowing, albeit melancholy 
and insecure, unsatisfied notes in her voice as she spoke of this 
mixture of the two conceptions worth and desire; how much de- 
sire appeared as the profoundly serious element, sternly opposed 
to the hated “society” one, “society” where true worth in play 
and coquetry betrayed itself; which was the inhuman, treacherous 



element of its exterior surface amiability, and which one must 
take from it, tear from it, to have it alone, utterly alone, alone in 
the most final sense of the word. The disciplining of lovableness 
till it became love that was what it amounted to, but at the same 
time there was more abstruse matter, about something wherein 
thought and sense mystically melted into one; the idea that the 
contradiction between the frivolity of society and the melancholy 
untrustworthiness of life in general was resolved in his embrace, 
the suffering it caused most sweetly avenged. 

Of what I said myself I scarcely know by now any details, ex- 
cept one question intended of course to point out her erotic over- 
estimation of the object of her love and to inquire how it was pos- 
sible: I remember I delicately hinted that the being to whom she 
devoted it was not after all actually so vital, glorious, or consum- 
mately desirable, that the military examination had showed a 
physiological functional defect and the removal of an organ. The 
answer was m the sense that this defect only brought the lovable 
closer to the suffering soul; that without it there would have been 
no hope at all, it was just that which had made the fickle one ac- 
cessible to the cry of pain; more still, and revealing enough* that 
the shortening of life which might result from it was more of a 
consolation and assurance to her who demanded possession than 
it was a moderation of her love. For the rest, all the strangely em- 
barrassing details from that first talk were repeated now, only re- 
solved in almost spiteful satisfaction: he might now make the 
same deprecating remark that he would have to show himself at 
the Langewiesches* or the Rollwagens’ (people whom one did 
not know oneself) and thus betray that he said the same thing to 
them, but now there was triumph in the thought. The “raciness” 
of the Rollwagen girls was no longer worrying or distressing: 
mouth to mouth with him, the sting was drawn from those too 
ingratiating requests to indifferent people that they really must 
stop on longer with him. As for that frightful “There are so 
many unhappy ones already”: there was a kind of sigh on which 
the ignominy of the words was blown away. This woman was 
plainly filled with the thought that while she did indeed belong 
to the world of enlightenment and suffering, yet at the same time 
she was a woman and in her femininity possessed a means of 
snatching life and happiness for herself, of bringing arrogance to 
her feet and her heart. Earlier, indeed, by a look, a serious word, 
one could put light-headedness a moment in a thoughtful mood, 
temporarily win it; one could oblige it, after a flippant farewell, 
to turn back and correct it by a silent and serious one. But now 



these temporary gains had been confirmed in possession, in union; 
in so far as possession and union were possible in duality, in so 
far as a brooding femininity could secure them. It was this which 
Inez mistrusted, betraying her lack of faith in the loyalty of the 
beloved. “Serenus,” said she, “it is inevitable, I know it, he will 
leave me.” And I saw the folds between her brows deepen and her 
face take on a half-mad expression. a But then woe to him 1 And 
woe to me 1 ” she added tonelessly, and I could not help recalling 
Adrian’s words when I first told him about the affair: “He must 
see that he gets out of it whole.” 

For me the talk was a real sacrifice. It lasted two hours, and 
much self-denial, human sympathy, friendly goodwill were 
needed to hold out. Inez seemed conscious of that too, but I must 
say that her gratitude for the patience, time, and nervous strain 
one devoted to her was, oddly enough, unmistakably mixed with 
a sort of malicious satisfaction, a dog-in-the-manger attitude ex- 
pressing itself in an occasional enigmatic smile. I cannot think of 
it today without wondering how I bore it so long. In fact we sat 
on until Institoris got back from the Allotria, where he had been 
playing tarok with some gentlemen. An expression of embarrassed 
conjecture crossed his face when he saw us still there. He thanked 
me for so kindly taking his place and I did not sit down again 
after greeting him. I kissed the hand of the mistress of the house 
and left, really unnerved, half angry, half sorry, and went through 
the silent empty streets to my quarters. 


The time of which I write was for us Germans an era of national 
collapse, of capitulation, of uprisings due to exhaustion, of help- 
less surrender into the hands of strangers. The time in which I 
write, which must serve me to set down these recollections here 
in my silence and solitude, this time has a horribly swollen belly, 
it carries in its womb a national catastrophe compared with which 
the defeat of those earlier days seems a moderate misfortune, the 
sensible liquidation of an unsuccessful enterprise. Even an igno- 
minious issue remains something other and more normal than the 
judgment that now hangs over us, such as once fell on Sodom and 
Gomorrah; such as the first time we had not after all invoked. 

That it approaches, that it long since became inevitable: of that 
I cannot believe anybody still cherishes the smallest doubt. Mon- 
signor Hinterpfortner and I are certainly no longer alone in the 
trembling — and at the same time, God help us, secretly sustain- 
ing — realization. That it remains shrouded in silence is uncanny 
enough. It is already uncanny when among a great host of the 
blind some few who have the use of their eyes must live with 
sealed lips. But it becomes sheer horror, so it seems to me, when 
everybody knows and everybody is bound to silence, while we 
read the truth from each other in eyes that stare or else shun a 

I have sought faithfully, from day to day, to be justified of my 
biographical task. In a permanent state of excitement I have tried 
to give worthy shape to the personal and intimate; and I have let 
go by what has gone by in the outer world during the time in 
which I write. The invasion of France, long recognized as a pos- 
sibility, has come, a technical and military feat of the first, or 
rather of an altogether unique order, prepared with the fullest de- 
liberation, in which we could the less prevent the enemy since we 
did not dare concentrate our defence at the single point of land- 
ing, being uncertain whether or not to regard it as one among 
many further attacks at points we could not guess. Vain and fatal 



both were our hesitations. This was the one. And soon troops, 
tanks, weapons, and every sort of equipment were brought on 
shore, more than we could throw back into the sea. The port of 
Cherbourg, we could confidently trust, had been put out of com- 
mission by the skill of German engineers, but it surrendered after 
a heroic radiogram to the Fuhrer from the Commandant as well 
as the Admiral. And for days now a battle has been raging for the 
Norman city of Caen — a struggle which probably, if our fears 
see truly, is already the opening of the way to the French capital, 
that Pans to which in the New Order the role of European Luna 
Park and house of mirth was assigned, and where now, scarcely 
held in check by the combined strength of the German and 
French police, resistance is boldly raising its head. 

Yes, how much has happened that had its effect on my own 
solitary activities, while yet I refused to look without-doors! It 
was not many days after the amazing landing in Normandy that 
our new reprisal weapon, already many times mentioned with 
heartfelt joy by our Fuhrer, appeared on the scene of the western 
theatre of war: the robot bomb, a most admirable means of of- 
fence, which only sacred necessity could inspire in the mind of 
inventive genius; these flying messengers of destruction, sent off 
in numbers without a crew from the French coast, which explode 
over southern England and, unless all signs fail, have become a 
real calamity to the foe. Are they capable of averting actual ca- 
tastrophe from us? Fate did not will that the installations should 
be ready in time to prevent or disturb the invasion. Meantime we 
read that Perugia is taken. It lies, though we do not say so, be- 
tween Rome and Florence. We already hear whispers of a stra- 
tegic plan to abandon the whole peninsula, perhaps to free more 
troops for the faltering defence in the east, whither our soldiers 
want at no price at all to be sent. A Russian wave is rolling up; it 
has taken Vitebsk and now threatens Minsk, the capital of White 
Russia, after whose fall, so our whispering news service tells us, 
there will be no longer any stopping them in the east either. 

No stopping them! My soul, think not on it! Do not venture 
to measure what it would mean if in this our uniquely frightful 
extremity the dam should break, as it is on the point of doing, and 
there were no more hold against the boundless hatred that we 
have fanned to flame among the peoples round us! True, by the 
destruction of our cities from the air, Germany has long since be- 
come a theatre of war; but it still remains for it to become so in 
the most actual sense, a sense that we cannot and may not con- 
ceive. Our propaganda even has a strange way of warning the foe 



against the wounding of our soil, the sacred German soil, as 
against a horrible crime. . . . The sacred German soil! As though 
there were anything still sacred about it, as though it were not 
long since deconsecrate over and over again, through uncounted 
crimes against law and justice and both morally and de facto laid 
open to judgment and enforcement! Let it come' Nothing more 
remains to hope, to wish, to will. The cry for peace with the 
Anglo-Saxon, the offer to continue alone the war against the Sar- 
matic flood, the demand that some part of the condition of un- 
conditional surrender be remitted, in other words that they treat 
with us — but with whom 5 All that is nothing but eye-wash: the 
demand of a regime which will not understand, even today seems 
not to understand, that its staff is broken, that it must disappear, 
laden with the curse of having made itself, us, Germany, the 
Reich, I go further and say all that is German, intolerable to the 

Such at the moment is the background of my biographical ac- 
tivity. It seemed to me I owed a sketch of it to the reader. As for 
the background of my actual narrative, up to the point whither 
I have brought it, I have characterized it at the beginning of this 
chapter in the phrase “into the hands of strangers.” “It is fright- 
ful to fall into the hands of strangers”, this sentence and the bit- 
ter truth of it I thought through and suffered through, often, in 
those days of collapse and surrender For as a German, despite a 
universalistic shading which my relation to the world takes on 
through my Catholic tradition, I cherish a lively feeling for the 
national type, the characteristic life-idiom of my country, so to 
speak, its idea, the way it asserts itself as a facet of the human, 
against other no doubt equally justifiable variations of the same, 
and can so assert itself only by a certain outward manifestation, 
sustained by a nation standing erect on its feet. The unexampled 
horror of a decisive military defeat overwhelms this idea, physi- 
cally refutes it, by imposing an ideology foreign to it — and in the 
first instance bound up with words, with the way we express our- 
selves. Handed over utterly into the power of this foreign ide- 
blogy, one feels with all one’s being that just because it is foreign 
it bodes no good. The beaten French tasted this awful experience 
in 1 870, when their negotiators, seeking to soften the conditions 
of the victors, priced very high the renown, “la gloire,” ensuing 
from the entry of our troop into Paris. But the German states- 
men answered them that the word gloire or any equivalent for it 
did not occur in our vocabulary. They talked about it in hushed 
voices, in die French Chamber. Anxiously they tried to compre- 



hend what it meant to surrender at discretion to a foe whose con- 
ceptions did not embrace the idea of gloire. 

Often and often I thought of it, when the Jacobin-Puritan vir- 
tue jargon, which four years long had disputed the war propa- 
ganda of the “agreed peace,” became the current language of vic- 
tory. I saw it confirmed that it is only a step from capitulation to 
pure abdication and the suggestion to the conqueror that he 
would please take over the conduct of the defeated country ac- 
cording to his own ideas, since for its own part it did not know 
what to do. Such impulses France knew, forty-seven years before, 
and they were not strange to us now. Still they are rejected. The 
defeated must continue somehow to be responsible for them- 
selves; outside leading-strings are there only for the purpose of 
preventing the Revolution which fills the vacuum after the de- 
parture of the old authority from going to extremes and en- 
dangering the bourgeois order of things for the victors. Thus m 
1918 the continuation of the blockade after we laid down our 
arms in the west served to control the German Revolution, to 
keep it on bourgeois-democratic rails and prevent it from degen- 
erating into the Russian proletarian. Thus bourgeois imperialism, 
crowned with the laurels of victory, could not do enough to 
warn against “anarchy”; not firmly enough reject all dealing with 
workmen’s and soldiers’ councils and bodies of that kind, not 
clearly enough protest that only with a settled Germany could 
peace be signed and only such would get enough to eat. What we 
had for a government followed this paternal lead, held with the 
National Assembly against the dictatorship of the proletariat and 
meekly waved away the advances of the Soviets, even when they 
concerned grain-deliveries. Not to my entire satisfaction, I may 
add. As a moderate man and son of culture I have indeed a natural 
horror of radical revolution and the dictatorship of the lower 
classes, which I find it hard, owing to my tradition, to envisage 
otherwise than in the image of anarchy and mob rule — m short, 
of the destruction of culture. But when I recall the grotesque 
anecdote about the two saviours of European civilization, the 
German and the Italian, both of them in the pay of finance capi- 
tal, walking together through the Ufiizi Gallery in Florence, 
where they certainly did not belong, and one of them saying to 
the other that all these “glorious art treasures” would have been 
destroyed by Bolshevism if heaven had not prevented it by raising 
them up — when I recall all this, then my notions about classes 
and masses take on another colour, and the dictatorship of the 
proletariat begins to seem to me, a German burgher, an ideal situ- 



ation compared with the now possible one of the dictatorship of 
the scum of the earth. Bolshevism to my knowledge has never de- 
stroyed any works of art. That was far more within the sphere 
of activity of those who assert that they are protecting us from it. 
There did not lack much for their zeal in destroying the things of 
the spirit — a zeal that is entirely foreign to the masses — to have 
made sacrifice of the works of the hero of these pages, Adrian 
Leverkuhn. For there is no doubt that their triumph and the his- 
torical sanction to regulate this world according to their beastly 
will would have destroyed his life-work and his immortality. 

Twenty-six years ago it was revulsion against the self-righteous 
blandishments of the rhetorical burgher and “son of the revolu- 
tion,” which proved stronger in my heart than the fear of dis- 
order, and made me want just what he did not: that my con- 
quered country should turn towards its brother in tribulation, 
towards Russia. I was ready to put up with the social revolution — 
yes, to agree to it — which would arise from such comradery. The 
Russian Revolution shook me. There was no doubt in my mind of 
the historical superiority of its principles over those of the pow- 
ers which set their foot on our necks. 

Since then history has taught me to regard with other eyes our 
conquerors of that day, who will shortly conquer us again in alli- 
ance with the revolution of the East. It is true that certain strata 
of bourgeois democracy seemed and seem today ripe for what I 
termed the dictatorship of the scum: willing to make common 
cause with it to linger out their privileges. Still, leaders have 
arisen, who like myself, who am a son of humanism, saw in this 
dictatorship the ultimate that can or may be laid upon humanity 
and moved their world to a life-and-death struggle against it. Not 
enough can these men be thanked, and it shows that the democ- 
racy of the western lands, in all the anachronistic state of their in- 
stitutions through the passage of time, all the rigidity of their con- 
ceptions of freeodm in resisting the new and inevitable, is after all 
essentially in the line of human progress, of goodwill to the im- 
provement of society and its renewal, alteration, rejuvenation; it 
shows that western democracy is after all capable, by its own na- 
ture, of a transition into conditions more justified of life. 

Ail this by the way. What I want to recall here in this biogra- 
phy is the loss of authority of the monarchic military state, so 
j^ng the form and habit of our life; it was far advanced as defeat 
nw>roached and now with defeat it is complete. Its collapse and 
di<ft cation ' result in a situation of permanent hunger ana want, 
voit^essive depreciation of the currency, progressive laxity and 



loose speculation, a certain regrettable and unearned dispensing of 
civilian freedom from all restraint, the degeneration of a national 
structure so long held together by discipline into debating groups 
of masterless citizens. Such a very gratifying sight that is not, and 
no deduction can be made from the word “painful” when I use it 
here to characterize the impressions I got as a purely passive ob- 
server from the gatherings of certain “Councils of Intellectual 
Workers” then springing up in Munich hotels. If I were a novel- 
writer, I could make out of my tortured recollections a most 
lively picture of such a futile and flagitious assemblage. There was 
a writer of belles-lettres, who spoke, not without charm, even 
with a sybaritic and dimpling relish, on the theme of “Revolu- 
tion and Love of Humanity,” and unloosed a free discussion— all 
too free, diffuse, and confused — by such misbegotten types as 
only see the light at moments like this: lunatics, dreamers, clowns, 
flibbertigibbets and fly-by-nights, plotters and small-time philoso- 
phers. There were speeches for and against love of human kind, 
for and against the authorities, for and against the people. A litde 
girl spoke a piece, a common soldier was with difficulty prevented 
from reading to the end a manuscript that began “Dear citizens 
and citizenesses!” and would doubtless have gone on the whole 
night; an angry student launched an embittered invective against 
all the previous speakers, without vouchsafing to the assemblage a 
single positive expression of opinion— and so on. The audience 
revelled in rude interruptions; it was turbulent, childish, and un- 
civilized, the leadership was incapable, the air frightful, and the 
result less than nothing. I kept looking round and asking myself 
whether I was the only sufferer; and I was grateful at last to be 
out of doors, where the tram service had stopped hours before 
and the sound of some probably entirely aimless shots echoed 
through the winter night. 

Leverkuhn, to whom I conveyed these impressions of mine, was 
unusually ailing at this time, in a way that had something humili- 
ating in its torments. It was as though he were pinched and 
plagued with hot pincers, without being in immediate danger of 
his life. That, however, seemed to have arrived at its nadir, so that 
he was just prolonging it by dragging on from one day to the 
next. He had been attacked by a stomach ailment, not yielding to 
any dietary measures, beginning with violent headache, lasting 
several days and recurring in a few more; with hours, yes, whole 
days of retching from an empty stomach, sheer misery, undigni- 
fied, niggling, humiliating, ending in utter exhaustion and per- 
sistent sensitivity to light after the attack had passed. There was 



no thought that the condition might be due to psychological causes, 
the tribulations of the time, the national defeat with its deso- 
lating consequences. In his rustic, not to say cloistered retreat, far 
from the city, these things scarcely touched him, though he was 
kept posted on them, not through the newspapers, which he never 
read, but by his so sympathetic and yet so unruffled housekeeper, 
Frau Else Schweigestill. The events, which certainly for a man 
of insight were not a sudden shock but the coming to pass of the 
long expected, could produce in him scarcely a shoulder-shrug, 
and he found my efforts to see in the evil the good which it might 
conceal, to be in the same vein as the comment which I had made 
at the war’s beginning — and that makes me think of that cold, 
incredulous “God bless your studies'” with which he then an- 
swered me. 

And still' Little as it was possible to connect his worsening 
health in any temperamental way with the national misfortune, 
yet my tendency to see the one in the light of the other and find 
symbolic parallels in them, this inclination, which after all might 
be due simply to the fact that they were happening at the same 
time, was not diminished by his remoteness from outward things, 
however much I might conceal the thought and refrain from 
bringing it up even indirectly. 

Adrian had not asked for a physician, because he wanted to in- 
terpret his sufferings as familiar and hereditary, as merely an acute 
intensification of his father’s migraine. It was Frau Schweigestill 
who at last insisted on calling in Dr. Kiirbis, the Waldshut dis- 
trict physician, the same who had once delivered the Fraulein 
from Bayreuth. The good man would not hear of migraine, since 
the often excessive pains were not one-sided as is the case with 
migraine but consisted in a raging torment in and above both eyes, 
and moreover were considered by the physician to be a secondary 
symptom. His diagnosis, stated with all reserve, was of something 
like a stomach ulcer, and while he prepared the patient for a pos- 
sible hsemorrhage, which did not occur, he prescribed a solution of 
nitrate of silver to be taken internally. When this did not answer 
he went over to strong doses of quinine, twice daily, and that did 
in fact give temporary relief. But at intervals of two weeks, and 
then for two whole days, the attacks, very like violent seasickness, 
came back; and Kiirbis’s diagnosis began to waver or rather he 
settled on a different one: he decided that my friend’s sufferings 
were definitely to be ascribed to a chronic catarrh of the stomach 
with considerable dilatation on the right side, together with cir- 
culatory stoppages which decreased the flow of blood to the 



brain. He now prescribed Karlsbad effervescent salts and a diet of 
the smallest possible volume, so that the fare consisted of almost 
nothmg but tender meat. He prohibited liquids, soup and vege- 
tables, flour and bread. This treatment was directed towards the 
desperately violent acidity from which the patient suffered, and 
which Kurbis was inclined to ascribe at least in part to nervous 
causes — that is, to a central influence, the brain, which here for 
the first tame began to play a role in his diagnostic speculations. 
More and more, after the dilatation of the stomach had been 
cured without diminishing the headaches and nausea, he shifted 
his explanation of the symptoms to the brain, confirmed therein 
by the emphatic demand of the patient to be spared the light. 
Even when he was out of bed he spent entire half-days m a 
densely dark room. One sunny morning had been enough to fa- 
tigue his nerves so much that he thirsted after darkness and en- 
joyed it like a beneficent element. I myself have spent many 
hours of the day talking with him in the Abbot’s room, where it 
was so dark that only after the eyes got used to it could one see 
the outlines of the furniture and a pallid gleam upon the walls. 

About this time ice-caps and morning cold showers for the 
head were prescnbed, and they did better than the other means, 
though only as palliatives, whose ameliorating effects did not jus- 
tify one in speaking of a cure. The unnatural condition was not 
removed, the attacks recurred intermittently, and the afflicted one 
declared he could stand them if it were not for 'the permanent and 
constant pam in the head, above the eyes, and that indescribable, 
paralysis-hke feeling all over from the top of the head to the tips of 
the toes, which seemed to affect the organs of speech as well. The 
sufferer’s words dragged, perhaps unconsciously, and he moved 
his lips so idly that what he said was badly articulated. I think it 
was rather that he did not care, for it did not prevent him from 
talking; and I sometimes even got the impression that he exploited 
the impediment and took pleasure in saying things in a not quite 
articulate way, only half meant to be understood, speaking as 
though out of a dream, for which he found this kind of com- 
munication suitable. He talked to me about the little sea-maid in 
Andersen’s fairy-tale, which he uncommonly loved and admired; 
not least the really capital picture of the horrid kingdom of the 
sea-witch, behind the raging whirlpools, in the wood of polyps, 
whither the yearning child ventured in order to gain human leg? 
instead of her fish’s tail; and through the love of the dark-eyed 
prince (while she herself had eyes “blue as the depths of sea”) 
perhaps to win, like human beings, an immortal soul. He played 



with the comparison between the knife-sharp pains which the 
beautiful dumb one found herself ready to bear every step she 
took on her lovely new white pins and what he himself had cease- 
lessly to endure. He called her his sister in affliction and made in- 
timate, humorous, and objective comments on her behaviour, her 
wilfulness, and her sentimental infatuation for the two-legged 
world of men. 

“It begins,” he said, “with the cult of the marble statue that had 
got down to the bottom of the sea, the boy, who is obviously by 
Thorwaldsen, and her illegitimate taste for it. Her grandmother 
should have taken the thing away from her instead of letting her 
plant a rose-red mourning wreath in the blue sand. They had let 
her go through too much, too early, after that the yearning and 
the hysterical overestimation of the upper world and the immortal 
soul cannot be controlled. An immortal soul — but why? A per- 
fectly absurd wish; it is much more soothing to know that after 
death one will be the foam on the sea, as Nature wills. A proper 
nixie would have taken this empty-headed prince, who did not 
know how to value her and who married someone else before her 
face and eyes, led him to the marble steps of his palace, drawn 
him into the water, and tenderly drowned him instead of making 
her fate depend as she did on his stupidity. Probably he would 
have loved her much more passionately with the fish-tail she was 
bom with than with those extremely painful legs. . . .” 

And with an objectivity that could only be in jest, but with 
drawn brows and reluctantly moving, half-articulating lips, he 
spoke of the aesthetic advantages of the nixie’s shape over that of 
the forked human kind, of the charm of the lines with which the 
feminine form flowed from the hips into the smooth-scaled, 
strong, and supple fish-tail, so well adapted for steering and dart- 
ing. He rejected all idea of a monstrosity, whatever attaches in 
the popular mind to mythological combinations of the human and 
the animal; and declared that he did not find admissible mytho- 
logical fictions of that kind. The sea-wife had a perfectly com- 
plete and charming organic reality, beauty and inevitability; you 
saw that at once, when she became so pathetically declassee after 
she had bought herself legs, which nobody thanked her for. Here 
we unquestionably had a perfectly natural phenomenon, nature 
herself was guilty of it, if she was guilty of it, which he did not 
believe, in fact he knew better — and so on. 

I still hear him speaking, or murmuring, with a sinister humour 
which I answered as lightly; with some misgiving as usual in my 
heart, along with silent admiration for the whimsical relish he 



knew how to extract from the pressure obviously resting on him. 
It was this that made me agree to his rejecting the proposal which 
Dr. Kurbis at that time in duty bound put before him. he recom- 
mended or asked consideration for a consultation with a higher 
medical authority; but Adrian avoided it, would have none of it. 
He had, he said, in the first place full confidence in Kurbis, but 
also he was convinced that he, more or less alone, out of his own 
nature and powers, would have to get rid of the evil. This corre- 
sponded with my own feeling. I should have been more inclined 
to a change of air, a sojourn at a cure, which the doctor also sug- 
gested, without, as we might have expected, being able to per- 
suade the patient. Much too much was he dependent on his elected 
and habitual frame of house and courtyard, church-tower, pond, 
and hill; too much on his ancient study, his velvet chair, to let 
himself in for exchanging all this, even for four weeks, for the 
abomination of a resort existence, with table d’hote, promenade, 
and band. Above all, he pleaded for consideration for Frau 
Schweigestill, whom he would not wish to offend by preferring 
some outside, public care and service to hers. He felt, he said, far 
and away better provided for here, in her understanding, humanly 
wise and motherly care. Really one might ask where else he could 
have what he had here, with her who brought him according to the 
new regimen every four hours something to eat: at eight o’clock 
an egg, cocoa, and rusk, at twelve a little steak or cutlet, at four 
soup, meat, and vegetable, at eight o’clock cold joint and tea. This 
diet was beneficial. It guarded against the fever attendmg the di- 
gestion of hearty meals. 

The Nackedey and Kunigunde Rosenstiel came by turns to 
Pfeiffering. They brought flowers, preserves, peppermint loz- 
enges, and whatever else the market shortages allowed. Not al- 
ways, in fact only seldom were they admitted, which put neither 
of them off. Kunigunde consoled herself with particularly well- 
turned letters in the purest, most stately German. This consola- 
tion, true, the Nackedey lacked. 

I was always glad to see Rudiger Schildknapp, with his Adrian- 
eyes, at my friend’s retreat. His presence had a soothing and 
cheering effect; would it had oftener been vouchsafed! But Adri- 
an’s illness was just one of those serious cases which always 
seemed to paralyse Rudiger’s obligingness; we know how the feel- 
ing of being urgently desired made him jib and refuse. He did not 
lack excuses, I mean rationalizations of this odd psychological 
trait: wrapped up in his literary bread-winning, this confounded 
translation, he could really scarcely get away, and besides, his own 



health was suffering under the bad food conditions. He often had 
intestinal catarrh and when he appeared in Pfeiffering — for he 
did come now and again — he wore a flannel body-belt, also a 
damp bandage in a gutta-percha sheath, a source of bitter wit and 
Anglo-Saxon jokes for him and thus a diversion for Adrian, who 
could raise himself with no one so well as with Rudiger above the 
torments of the body into the free air of jest and laughter. 

Frau Senator Rodde came too, of course, from time to time, 
crossing the road from her over-furmshed retreat to inquire of 
Frau Schweigestill about Adrian’s health if she could not see him 
herself. If he could receive her, or if they met out of doors, she 
told him about her daughters, and when she smiled kept her lips 
closed over a gap in her front teeth, for here too, in addition to 
the hair, there were losses which made her shun society. Clarissa, 
she said, loved her profession and did not falter in pursuit of it, 
despite a certain coldness on the part of the public, carping critics, 
and the impertinent cruelty of this or that producer who tried 
to distract her by calling “Tempo, tempo!” from the wings when 
she was about to enjoy a solo scene. The first engagement m Celle 
had come to an end and the next one had not carried her much 
further- she was playing the juvenile lead in remote East Prussian 
Elbing. But she had prospects of an engagement in the west, in 
Pforzheim, whence it was but a step to the stage of Karlsruhe or 
Stuttgart. The main thing, in this profession, was not to get stuck 
in the provinces, but to be attached betimes to an important state 
theatre or a private one in a metropolis. Clarissa hoped to succeed. 
But from her letters, at least those to her sister, it appeared that 
her success was of a more personal, that is erotic, kind rather than 
an artistic one. Many were the snares to which she saw herself 
exposed; repulsing them took much of her energy and mocking 
coolness. To Inez, though not to her mother directly, she an- 
nounced that a rich warehouse-owner, a well-preserved man with 
a white beard, wanted to make her his mistress and set her up ex- 
travagantly with an apartment, a car, and clothes — when she 
could silence the regisseur’s impudent “Tempo!” and make the 
critics fall in line. But she was much too proud to establish her 
life on such foundations. It was her personality, not her person, 
that was important to her. The rich man was turned down and 
Clarissa went on fighting her way in Elbing. 

About her daughter Institoris in Munich Frau Rodde talked in 
less detail: her life was not so lively or eventful, more normal and 
secure — regarded superficially, and Frau Rodde obviously wanted 
to regard it thus. I mean she represented Inez’s marriage as happy. 



which was certainly a large order of sentimental superficiality. 
The twins had just been bom, and the Frau Senator spoke with 
simple feeling of the event, of the three spoilt little darlings, whom 
she visited from time to time in their ideal nursery. Expressly and 
with pride she praised her older daughter for the unbending will- 
power with which she kept her housekeeping up to the mark 
despite all contrary circumstances. You could not tell whether 
the Frau Senator really did not know what the birds on the 
house-tops talked about, the Schwerdtfeger affair, or whether she 
only pretended. Adrian, as the reader knows, knew of it from me. 
But one day he received Rudolf’s confession — a singular busi- 
ness indeed. 

The violinist was most sympathetic during the acute illness of 
our friend, loyal and attached; yes, it seemed as though he wanted 
to use the occasion to show how much store he set by Adrian’s 
favour and good will. It was even my impression that he believed 
he could use the sufferer’s reduced and as he probably thought 
more or less helpless state to exert his quite imperturbable mgrati- 
atingness, enforced by all his personal charm, to conquer a cool- 
ness, dryness, and ironic withdrawal which annoyed him, on 
grounds more or less serious, or hurt him, or wounded his vanity, 
or possibly some genuine feeling on his part — God knows what it 
was. In speaking of Rudolf’s inconstant nature — as one has to 
speak of it — one runs a risk of saying too much. But also one 
should not say too little, and for my part this nature and its mani- 
festations appeared to me always in the light of an absolutely 
naive, childish, yes, puckish possession, whose reflection I some- 
times saw laughing out of his so very pretty blue eyes. 

Suffice it to say that Schwerdtfeger zealously concerned him- 
self with Adrian’s condition. He often rang up to inquire of Frau 
Schweigestill and offered to come out whenever a visit might be 
tolerable or welcome. Soon afterwards, on a day when there was 
an improvement, he would appear; he displayed the most win- 
ning delight at the reunion, and twice at the begituiing addressed 
Adrian with du, only the third time, as Adrian did not respond, 
to correct himself and be satisfied with the first name and Sie. As 
a sort of consolation and by way of experiment Adrian sometimes 
called him Rudolf, though never Rudi, as everybody else did, 
and he dropped this too after a while. However, he congratu- 
lated the violinist on the great success he had recently had in a 
Nuremberg concert, and particularly with his playing of Bach’s 
Partita in E major for violin alone, which had received the live- 
liest commendation from public and press. The result was his ap- 



pearance as soloist at one of the Munich Academy concerts in 
the Odeon, where his clean, sweet, technically perfect interpreta- 
tion of Tartini pleased everybody extraordinarily. They put up 
with his “small tone.” He had musical and also personal compen- 
sations to make up for it. His rise to the position of leader m the 
Zapfenstosser orchestra — the former holder having retired to de- 
vote himself to teaching — was by this time a settled thing, despite 
his youth, and he looked considerably younger than he was, yes, 
remarkably enough, younger than when I first met him. 

But with all this, Rudi appeared depressed by certain circum- 
stances of his private life, in short by his liaison with Inez Insti- 
toris, about which he relieved himself in private to Adrian. “In 
private” is even an understatement, for the conversation took place 
in a darkened room, each being aware of the other’s presence only 
as a shadowy outline; and that was, no doubt, an encouragement 
and easement to Schwerdtfeger in his confidences. The day was 
an uncommonly brilliant one in January 1919, with sunshine, blue 
sky, and glittering snow, and Adrian, soon after Rudolf appeared 
and the first greetings took place, out of doors, was seized with 
such severe head pains that he asked his guest to share with him 
at least for a while the well-tried remedy of darkness. They had 
exchanged the Nike salon, where they had sat at first, for the Ab- 
bot’s room, shutting out the light with blinds and hangings, so 
that it was as I had known it: at first complete night to the eyes, 
then they learned to distinguish more or less the position of the 
furniture and perceived the weakly trickling shimmer of the 
outer light, a pallid gleam on the walls. Adrian, in his velvet chair, 
excused himself many times into the darkness on account of the 
inconvenience, but Schwerdtfeger, who had taken the Savonarola 
chair at the writing-table, was entirely satisfied. If it did the other 
good — and he could well understand how it would do so— then 
he preferred it that way too. They talked with lowered voices, 
partly on account of Adrian’s condition, partly because one tends 
to lower one’s voice in the dark. It even produces a certain in- 
clination to silence, to the extinction of speech; but Schwerdt- 
feger’s Dresden upbringing did not tolerate any pauses. He chat- 
ted away over the bad patches, in defiance of the uncertainty one 
is in under such conditions about the other party’s reactions. They 
skimmed over the desperate political situation, the fights in the 
capital, came to speak of the latest in the musical world, and Ru- 
dolf, in the purest tone, whistled something from Falla’s Nights 
in the Gardens of Spain and Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola, 
and harp. He whistled the bourree from Love’s Labour’s Lost 



too, precisely in the right pitch, and then the comic theme of the 
weeping little dog from the puppet play Of the Godless Guile, 
without being able to judge whether Adrian cared for it or not. 
At length he sighed and said he did not feel like whistling, but 
on the contrary was heavy-hearted, or perhaps not that so much 
as angry, vexed, impatient, also worried and not knowing what to 
do, and so, after all, heavy-hearted. Why ; To answer that was 
not so easy and not even permissible, or at most among friends, 
where you were not obliged to be so careful about this man-of- 
honour attitude that you must keep your affairs with women to 
yourself. He was accustomed to observe it, he was no chatter- 
box. But he was not merely a man of honour either, people mis- 
took him when they thought so, a shallow amoroso and man of 
pleasure: that was loathsome. He was a man and an artist; he had 
no use for this man-of-honour attitude; and certainly Adrian 
knew, for everybody did, what he meant. In short, it was about 
Inez Rodde, or rather Institoris, and his relations with her, which 
he could not help. “I can’t help it, Adrian, believe me! I never 
seduced her, but she me, and the horns of little Institoris, to use 
that silly expression, are altogether her work, not mine. What do 
you do when a woman clings to you like a drowning person and 
simply will have you for her lover? Do you leave your garment 
in her hands and flee! 1 No, people do not do that now, there are 
other man-of-honour rules, you are not to say no, especially if 
the woman is pretty, though in rather a fatal and suffering way.” 
But he was fatal and suffering too, a nervous and often afflicted 
artist, he wasn’t a young light-head or sonny-boy, whatever 
people thought. Inez imagined all sorts of things about him, 
quite falsely, and that resulted in a crooked sort of relationship, 
as though such a relation in and for itself were not crooked 
enough, with the silly situations it was always bringing about 
and the need for caution every minute. Inez got round all that 
better than he did, for the simple reason that she was so pas- 
sionately in love; he could say that because she was so on the 
basis of her false imaginings. He was at a disadvantage because 
he was not in love: “I never have loved her, I admit it openly, I 
always just had friendly and brotherly feelings for her, and that 
I let myself in with her like this and the stupid thing drags on 
because she clings to it, that is just a matter of duty and decency 
on my side.” But he must in confidence say this: that it was awk- 
ward, yes, degrading, when the passion, a really desperate pas- 
sion, was on the woman’s side while the man was just doing his 
knightly duty. It reversed the possessive relation somehow and 



led to an uncomfortable preponderance on the part of the 
woman so that he must say that Inez behaved with his person and 
his body as actually and rightly a man behaves with a woman, 
added to which her morbid and feverish jealousy, quite unjustified 
anyhow, had to do with the undivided possession of his person, un- 
justified, as he said, for he had enough with her, m fact enough of 
her and her clinging, and his invisible auditor could scarcely con- 
ceive what a refreshment for him, under these circumstances, was 
the society of a man so highly placed and by him very highly 
esteemed, the sphere of such a one and conversation with him. 
People mostly judged him falsely; he much preferred having a 
serious, elevating, and worth-while talk with such a man to going 
to bed with women; yes, if he were to characterize himself, he 
thought, after detailed self-examination, it would be as a platomc 

And suddenly, as it were in illustration of what he had just 
said, Rudi came to speak of the violin concerto which he so 
greatly wished to have Adrian write for him, if possible with all 
rights of performance reserved. That was his dream. “I need 
you, Adrian, for my advancement, my development, my puri- 
fication, in a way, from all those other affairs. On my word, that 
is the way I feel, I’ve never been more m earnest about anything, 
about what I need. And the concerto I want from you, that is 
just the most concrete, I mean the most symbolic expression for 
this need. And you would do it wonderfully, much better than 
Delius or Prokofiev — with an unheard-of simple and singable 
first theme in the main movement that comes in again after the 
cadenza. That is always the best moment in the classic violin 
concerto, when after the solo acrobatics the first theme comes in 
again. But you don’t need to do it like that, you don’t need to 
have a cadenza at all, that is just a convention. You can throw 
them all overboard, even the arrangement of the movements, it 
doesn’t need to have any movements, for my part you can have 
the allegro moito in the middle, a real ‘Devil’s trill,’ and you can 
juggle with the rhythm, as only you can do, and the adagio can 
come at the end, as transfiguration — it couldn’t be too unconven- 
tional, and anyhow I want to put that down, that it will make 
people cry. I want to get it into myself so I could play it in my 
sleep, and brood over it and love every note like a mother, and 
you would be the father — it would be between us like a child, 
a platonic child — yes, our concerto, that would be so exactly the 
fulfilment of everything that I understand by platonic.” 

Thus Schwerdtfeger. I have in these pages spoken many times 

DR. FAUSTUS 3 5 1 

in his favour, and today too, when I go over it all again I feel 
mildly towards him, to a considerable extent touched by his 
tragic end. But the reader will now understand better certain 
expressions which I applied to him, that “impish naivete” or 
childish devilry in his nature. In Adrian’s place — but there is 
really no sense in putting myself in his place; I would not have 
tolerated some of the things Rudi said. It was distinctly an abuse 
of the darkness. Not only that he repeatedly went too far in his 
frankness about his relations with Inez — but also he went too 
far in another direction, culpably and impishly too far, betrayed 
by the darkness, I might say, if the notion of any betrayal is in 
place and one ought not to speak instead of an impudent intru- 
sion of familiarity upon solitude. 

That is in fact the right description of Rudi Schwerdtfeger’s 
relation to Adrian Leverkuhn. The plan took years to carry our, 
and a certain sad success cannot be denied to it. In the long run 
the defencelessness of solitude against such a wooing was proved, 
certainly to the destruction of the wooer. 


Not only with the little sea-maid’s knifelike pains did Leverkiihn 
at the time of his worst state of health compare his own torments. 
In conversation he had another parallel, which he visualized with 
remarkable clarity. I called it to mind when some months later, 
in the spring of 1919, the illness lifted like a miracle from off him, 
and his spirit, phoenixlike, rose to its fullest freedom and most 
amazing power, in an unchecked, not to say unbridled, anyhow 
an unintermitted flow of almost breathless productivity. But just 
that very thing betrayed to me that the two states, the depressive 
and the exalted, were not inwardly sharply distinguished from 
each other. They were not separate and without all connection, 
for the present state had been preparing in the former one and to 
some extent had already been contained in it — just as indeed, on 
the other hand, the outbreak of the healthy and creative epoch 
was by no means a time of enjoyment, but rather in its own way 
one of affliction, of painful urgency and compulsion. . . . Ah, 
I write badly ! My eagerness to say everything at once makes 
my sentences run over, hurries them away from the thought 
they began by intending to express, and makes them seem to rush 
on and lose it from sight. I shall do well to take the reproof from 
the reader’s mouth. The way my ideas tumble over themselves 
and get lost is a result of the excitement generated by my mem- 
ory of this time, the time after the collapse of the authoritarian 
German state, with its far-reaching accompanying laxity, which 
affected me as well, laying siege to my settled view of the world 
with new conceptions hard for it to digest. I felt that an epoch was 
ending, which had not only included the nineteenth century, but 
gone far back to the end of the Middle Ages, to the loosening of 
scholastic ties, the emancipation of the individual, the birth of 
freedom. This was the epoch which I had in very truth regarded 
as that of my more extended spiritual home, in short the epoch 
of bourgeois humanism. And I felt as I say that its hour had come; 
that a mutation of life would be consummated; the world would 
enter into a new, still nameless constellation. And moreover this 



feeling of mine, riveting my attention, was a product not only of 
the end of the war but already the product of its beginning, 
fourteen years after the turn of the century. It had lain at the 
bottom of the panic, the awful sense of destiny which people 
like me felt at that time. No wonder the disintegration of de- 
feat increased this feeling to its highest pitch, no wonder either 
that in a defeated country like Germany it occupied the mind 
far more than among the victorious nations, whose average men- 
tal state, precisely on account of victory, was much more con- 
servative. They by no means felt the war as the massive and de- 
cisive historical break which it seemed to us. They saw in it a 
disturbance, now happily past, after which life could return to 
the path out of which it had been thrust. I envied them. I envied 
in particular France, for the sanction which, at least apparently, 
had been vouchsafed by the victory to its conservative bourgeois 
intellectual constitution; for the sense of security in the classic 
and rational, which it might draw from its triumph. Certainly, I 
should at that time have felt better and more at home the other 
side of the Rhine than here, where, as I said, much that was new, 
alarming, and destructive, which none the less my conscience 
obliged me to take stock of, urged itself upon my world-picture. 
And here I think of the distracting discussion evenings in the 
Schwabing apartment of a certain Sixtus Kridwiss, whose ac- 
quaintance I made at the Schlaginhaufens’. I will come back to 
those evenings presently, only saying for the moment that the 
gatherings and intellectual conferences, in which I often out of 
pure conscientiousness took part, set about me shrewdly. And 
at this same time with my whole deeply stirred and often dis- 
mayed soul I was sharing intimately in the birth of a work which 
did not fail of certain bold and prophetic associations with those 
same conferences; which confirmed and realized them on a 
higher, more creative plane. . . . When I add that besides all 
this I had my teaching work to perform and might not neglect 
my duties as head of a family, it will be understood that I was 
subject to a strain which together with a diet low in calories re- 
duced me physically not a little. 

This too I say only to characterize the fleeting, insecure times 
we lived in; certainly not to direct the reader’s attention upon my 
inconsiderable person, to which only a place in the background 
of these memoirs is fitting. I have already given expression to my 
regret that my zeal to communicate must here and there give an 
impression of flightiness. It is however a wrong impression, for I 
stick very well by my trains of thought, and have not forgotten 




that I intended to introduce a second striking and pregnant com- 
parison, in addition to that with the little sea-maid, which Adrian 
made at the time of his utmost and torturing sufferings. 

“How do I feeP” he said to me. “Quite a lot like Johannes 
Martyr m the cauldron of oil. You must imagine it pretty much 
like that. I squat there, a pious sufferer, in the tub, with a lively 
W'ood fire crackling underneath, faithfully fanned up by a bravo 
with a hand-bellows, and m the presence of Imperial Majesty 
who looks on from close by It is the Emperor Nero, you must 
know, a magnificent big Turk with Italian brocade on his back. 
The hangman’s helper m a flowing jacket and a codpiece pours 
the boiling oil over the back of my neck from a long-handled 
ladle, as I duly and devoutly squat. I am basted properly, like a 
roast, a hell-roast, it is worth seeing, and you are invited to 
mingle with the deeply interested persons behind the barrier, the 
magistrates, the invited public, partly in turbans and partly in 
good old-German caps with hats on top of them. Respectable 
townsfolk — and their pensive mood rejoices m the protection 
of halberdiers. One points out to the other what happens to a hell- 
roast. They have two fingers on the cheek and two under the 
nose. A fat man is raising his hand, as though to say: ‘God save 
us all p On the women’s faces, simple edification. Do you see it 5 
We are all close together, the scene is faithfully filled with figures. 
Nero’s little dog has come too, so there shan’t be even a tiny 
empty space. He has a cross little fox-terrier face. In the back- 
ground you see the towers and gables and pointed oriels of 
Kaisersaschem. . . .” 

Of course he should have said Nuremberg. For what he de- 
scribed — described with the same intimate confidence as he had 
the tapering of the nixie’s body into the fish-tail, so that I recog- 
nized it long before he got to the end — was the first sheet of 
Durer’s series of woodcuts of the Apocalypse. How could I not 
have recalled the comparison, when later Adrian’s purpose slowly 
revealed itself, though at the time it seemed far-fetched to me, 
while immediately suggesting certain vague divinations. This was 
the work which he was mastering, the while it mastered him; for 
w T hich his powers were slowly gathering head while they lay 
stretched in torments. Was I not right to say that the depressive 
and the exalted states of the artist, illness and health, are by no 
means sharply divided from each other? That rather in illness, as 
it were under the lee of it, elements of health are at work, and 
elements of illness, working geniuslike, are carried over into 
health^ It is not otherwise, I thank the insight given me by a 



friendship which caused me much distress and alarm, but always 
filled me too with pride genius is a form of vital power deeply 
experienced in illness, creating out of illness, through illness crea- 

The conception of the apocalyptic oratorio, the secret preoccu- 
pation with it, then, went far back into a time of apparently com- 
plete exhaustion, and the vehemence and rapidity with which 
afterwards, m a few months, it was put on paper always gave 
me the idea that that period of prostration had been a sort of 
refuge and retreat, into which his nature withdrew, in order 
that, unspied on, unsuspected, in some hidden sanctuary, shut 
away by suffering from our healthy life, he might preserve and 
develop conceptions for which ordinary well-being would never 
summon the reckless courage. Indeed, they seemed to be as it were 
robbed from the depths, fetched up from there and brought to 
the light of day. That his purpose only revealed itself to me by 
degrees from visit to visit, I have already said. He wrote, sketched, 
collected, studied, combined, that could not be hidden from me, 
with inward satisfaction I realized it. Anticipatory announce- 
ments came out, from week to week, in a half-joking half-silence; 
in a repulse that out of fear or annoyance protected a not quite 
canny secret; in a laugh, with drawn brows; in phrases like “Stop 
prying, keep your little soul pure!” or “You always hear about it 
soon enough!” or, more frankly, somewhat readier to confess: 
“Yes, there are holy horrors brewing; the theological virus, it 
seems, does not get out of one’s blood so easily. Without your 
knowing it, it leaves a strong precipitate.” 

The hint confirmed suspicions that had arisen in my mind on 
seeing what he read. On his work-table I discovered an extraordi- 
nary old volume: a thirteenth-century French metrical transla- 
tion of the Vision of St. Paul, the Greek text of which dates back 
to the fourth century. To my question about where it came from 
he answered: 

“The Rosenstiel got it. Not the first curiosity she has dug up 
for me. An enterprising female, that. It has not escaped her that 
I have a weakness for people who have been ‘down below.’ By 
below I mean in hell. That makes a bond between people as far 
apart as Paul and Virgil’s /Eneas. Remember how Dante refers to 
them as brothers, as two who have been down below?” 

I remembered. “Unfortunately,” I said, “your filia hospitalis 
can’t read that to you.” 

“No,” he laughed, “for the old French I have to use my own 



At the time, that is, when he could not have used them, as the 
pain above and in their depths made reading impossible, Clemen- 
tine Schweigestill often had to read aloud to him: matter indeed 
that came oddly enough but after all not so unsuitably from the 
lips of the kindly peasant girl. I myself had seen the good child 
with Adrian in the Abbot’s room: he reclined in the Bemheim 
chaise-longue while she sat very stiff-backed in the Savonarola 
chair at the table and in touchingly plaintive, painfully high-Ger- 
man schoolgirl accents read aloud out of a discoloured old card- 
board volume. It too had probably come into the house through 
the offices of the keen-nosed Rosenstiel- it was the ecstatic nar- 
rative of Mechthild of Magdeburg. I sat down noiselessly in a 
comer and for some time listened with astonishment ms this 
quaint, devout, and blundering performance. 

So then I learned that it was often thus. The brown$>eyed 
maiden sat by the sufferer, in her modest Bavarian peasantt cos- 
tume, which betrayed the influence of the parish priest: a icfrock 
of olive-green wool, high-necked, with a thick row of tiny Mnetal 
buttons, the bodice that flattened the youthful bosom endiAaig in 
a point over the wide gathered skirt that fell to her feet. Asf| sole 
adornment she wore below the neck ruche a chain made of f old 
silver coins. So she sat and read or intoned, in her naive accents, 
from writings to which surely the parish priest could havejfi had 
no objection: the early Christian and mediaeval accounts cl if vi- 
sions and speculations about the other world. Now and bs tien 
Mother Schweigestill would put her head round the door to ifelook 
for her daughter, whom she might have needed in the house; Into 
she nodded approvingly at the pair and withdrew. Or perhaps shftf 
too sat down to listen for ten minutes on a chair near the door; 
then noiselessly disappeared. If it was not the transports of Mech- 
thild that Clementine rehearsed, then it was those of Hilde- 
garde of Bingen; if neither of these, then a German version of 
the Historia ecclesiastica gentis anglorum by the learned monk 
known as the Venerable Bede: a work in which is transmitted a 
good part of the Celtic fantasies about the beyond, the visionary 
experiences of early Irish and Anglo-Saxon times. This whole 
ecstatic literature from the pre-Christian and early Christian 
eschatologies forms a rich fabric of tradition, full of recurrent 
motifs. Into it Adrian spun himself round like a cocoon, to stimu- 
late himself for a work which should gather up all their elements 
into one single focus, assemble them in one pregnant, portentous 
synthesis and in relentless transmission hold up to humanity the 


mirror of the revelation, that it might see therein what is oncom- 
ing and near at hand. 

“And end is come, the end is come, it watcheth for thee, be- 
hold, it is come. The morning is come unto thee, O thou that 
dwellest in the land.” These words Leverkuhn makes his testis , 
the witness, the narrator, announce m a spectral melody, built 
up of perfect fourths and diminished fifths, and set above pedal 
harmonies alien to the key; they then form the text of that boldly 
archaic responsorium, which they unforgettably repeat by two 
four-part choruses in contrary motion. These words, indeed, do 
not belong to the Revelation of St. John, they originate in an- 
other layer, the prophecy of the Babylonian exile, the visions 
and lamentations of Ezekiel, to which, moreover, the mysterious 
epistle from Patmos, from the time of Nero, stands in a relation 
of the most singular dependence. Thus the “eating of the little 
book,” which Albrecht Diirer also boldly made the subject of 
one of his woodcuts, is taken almost word for word from Ezekiel, 
down to the detail that it (or the “roll,” therein “lamentations 
and mourning and woe”) in the mouth of the obediently eating 
one was as honey for sweetness. So also the great whore, the 
woman on the beast, is quite extensively prefigured, with similar 
turns of phrase. In depicting her the Nuremberger amused him- 
self by using the portrait study he had brought with him of a 
Venetian courtesan. In fact there is an apocalyptic tradition which 
hands down to these ecstatics visions and experiences to a cer- 
tain extent already framed, however odd it may seem, psycho- 
logically, that a raving man should rave in the same pattern as 
another who came before him: that one is ecstatic not independ- 
ently, so to speak, but by rote. Still it seems to be the case, and 
I point it out in connection with the statement that Leverkuhn 
in the text for his incommensurable choral work by no means 
confined himself to the Revelation of St. John, but took in this 
whole prophetic tradition, so that his work amounts to the crea- 
tion of a new and independent Apocalypse, a sort of resume of 
the whole literature. The title, Apocalypsis cum figuris, is in 
homage to Diirer and is intended to emphasize the visual and ac- 
tualizing, the graphic character, the minuteness, the saturation, in 
short, of space with fantastically exact detail- the feature is com- 
mon to both works. But it is far from being the case that Adrian’s 
mammoth fresco follows the Nuremberger’s fifteen illustrations 
in any programmatic sense. True, many words of the same mys- 
terious document which also inspired Diirer underlie this fright- 



ful and consummate work of tonal art. But Adrian broadened the 
scope both of choral recitative and of anosa by including also 
much from the Lamentations in the Psalter, for instance that pierc- 
ing “For my soul is full of troubles and my life draweth nigh unto 
the grave,” as also the expressive denunciations and images a 
terror from the Apocrypha, then certain fragments from tto 
Lamentations of Jeremiah, today unspeakably offensive in th«ia 
effect, and even remoter matter still, all of which must contrSer- 1 ' 
to produce the general impression of a view opening intcard - 0 
other world and the final reckoning breaking in; of a joough , 1 
into hell, wherein are worked through the visional represent nary* 
of the hereafter, in the earlier, shamanistic stages, as well as in a 1 
developed from antiquity and Christianity, down to Dante. J > ; this 
kuhn’s tone-picture draws much from Dante’s poem; an 
more from that crowded wall, swarming with bodies, -wyed" 
here angels perform staccato on trumpets of destruction, tcos- 
Charon’s bark unloads its freight, the dead rise, saints pray.rock 
monic masks await the nod of the serpent-wreathed MtffOs^etal 
damned man, voluptuous in flesh, clung round, carried and dig in 
by grinning sons of the pit, makes horrid descent, covering sole 
eye with his hand and with the other staring transfixed with lold 
ror into bottomless perdition; while not far off Grace draws up 
two sinning souls from the snare into redemption — in short, from 
the groups and the scenic structure of the Last Judgment. 

A man of culture, such as I am, when he essays to talk about 
a work with which he is in such painfully close touch may be 
pardoned for comparing it with existing and familiar cultural 
monuments. To do this gives me the needed reassurance, still 
needed even as it was at the time when I was present with horror, 
amaze, consternation, and pride, at its birth — an experience that 
I suppose was due to my loving devotion to its author but ac- 
tually went beyond my mental capacities, so that I trembled and 
was carried away. For after that first period when he repulsed me 
and hugged his secret, he then began to give the friend of his 
childhood access to his doing and striving; so that at every visit to 
Pfeiffermg — and of course I went as often as I could, and almost 
always over Saturday and Sunday — I was allowed to see new 
parts as they developed, also accretions and drafts, of a scope at 
times fairly incredible. Here were vastly complex problems, tech- 
nical and intellectual, subjecting themselves to the strictest law. 
Contemplating the mere manufacture of the work a steady-going 
man used to a moderate bourgeois rate of accomplishment might 
well go pile with terror. Yes, I confess that in my simple human 



fear the largest factor was, I should say, the perfectly uncanny 
rapidity with which the work came to be- the chief part of it xn 
four and a half months, a period which one would have allowed 
for the mere mechanical task of putting it down. 

Obviously and admittedly this man lived at the time in a state 
of tension so high as to be anything but agreeable. It was more 
like a constant tyranny, the flashing up and stating of a problem, 
the task of composition (over which he had heretofore always 
lingered), was one with its lightninglike solution. Scarcely did it 
leave him time to follow with the pen the haunting and hunting 
inspirations which gave him no rest, which made him their slave. 
Still in the most fragile health, he worked ten hours a day and 
more, broken only by a short pause at midday and now and then 
a walk round the pond or up the hill, brief excursions more like 
flight than recreation. One could see by his step, first hasty and 
then halting, that they were merely another form of unrest. 
Many a Sunday evening I spent with him and always remarked 
how little he was his own master, how little he could stick to 
the everyday, indifferent subjects which he deliberately chose, 
by way of relaxation, to talk about with me. I see him suddenly 
stiffen from a relaxed posture; see his gaze go staring and listen- 
ing, his lips part and — unwelcome sight to me — the flickering 
red rise in his cheeks. What was that 5 Was it one of those mel- 
odic illuminations to which he was, I might almost say, exposed 
and with which powers whereof I refuse to know aught kept 
their pact with him? Was it one of those so mightily plastic 
themes in which the apocalyptic work abounds, rising to his 
mind, there at once to be checked and chilled, to be bridled and 
bitted and made to take its proper place in the whole structure? 
I see him with a murmured “Go on, go on!” move to his table, 
open the folder of orchestral drafts with such violence as some- 
times to tear one, and with a grimace whose mingled meamng 1 
will not try to convey but which in my eyes distorted the lofty, 
intelligent beauty his features wore by right, read to himself, 
where perhaps was sketched that frightful chorus of humanity 
fleeing before the four horsemen, stumbling, fallen, overridden, 
or there was noted down the awful scream given to the mocking, 
bleating bassoon, the “Wail of the Bird”, or perhaps that song 
and answer, like an antiphony, which on first hearing so gripped 
my heart — the harsh choral fugue to the words of Jeremiah: 

Wherefore doth a living man complain, 

A man for the punishment of his sins? 



Let us search and try our ways, 

And turn again to the Lord. . . . 

We have transgressed and have rebelled: 

Thou hast not pardoned. 

Thou hast covered with anger 

And persecuted us: 

Thou hast slain, thou hast not pitied. . . . 

Thou hast made us as the offscouring 

And refuse in the midst of the people. 

I call the piece a fugue, and it gives that impression, yet the 
theme is not faithfully repeated, but rather develops with the de- 
velopment of the whole, so that a style is loosened and in a way 
reduced ad absurdum, to which the artist seems to submit him- 
self — which cannot occur without reference back to the archaic 
fugal forms of certain canzoni and ricercari of the pre-Bach time, 
in which the fugue theme is not always clearly defined and ad- 
hered to. 

Here or there he might look, seize his pen, throw it down again, 
murmur: “Good, till tomorrow,” and turn back to me, the flush 
still on his brow. But I knew or feared that the “till tomorrow” 
would not be adhered to: that after I left he would sit down and 
work out what had so unsummoned flashed into his mind as we 
talked. Then he would take two luminol tablets to give his sleep 
the soundness which must compensate for its briefness. For next 
day he would begin again at daybreak. He quoted: 

“Up, psalter and harp — 

I will be early up.” 

He lived in fear that the state of illumination with which he was 
blest— or with which he was afflicted — might be untimely with- 
drawn. And in fact he did suffer a relapse. It was shortly before 
he got to the end, that frightful finis, which demanded all his 
courage and which, so far from being a romantic music of re- 
demption, relentlessly confirms the theologically negative and 
pitiless character of the whole. It was, I say, just before he made 
port with those roaring brass passages, heavily scored and widely 
spaced out, which make one think of an open abyss wherein one 
must hopelessly sink. The relapse lasted for three weeks with pain 
and nausea, a condition in which, in his own words, he lost the 
memory of what it meant to compose, or even how it was done. 


It passed. At the beginning of August 1919 he was working again; 
and before this month, with its many hot, sunny days, was over, 
his task was finished. The four and a half months which I gave 
as the period of production are reckoned up to the beginning of 
the relapse. Including the final working period, the sketch of the 
Apocalypse had taken him, in all, amazingly enough, six months 
to put on paper. 


CHAPTER XXXIV (continued) 

And now: is that all I have to say in his biography about this 
work of my departed friend: this work a thousandfold hated, 
thought of with shuddering and yet a hundredfold beloved and 
exalted 15 No, I still have much on my heart about it and about 
certain of its characteristics, which — of course with undeviatmg 
admiration — disturbed and depressed me, or, better put, absorbed 
my attention even while they disturbed my mind. But at the same 
time I had it in mind to connect those very qualities and charac- 
teristics with the abstract speculations to which I was exposed in 
the house of Herr Sextus Kridwiss and to which I referred on 
an earlier page. I am free to confess that the novel experiences of 
these Kridwiss evenings, combined with my participation in 
Adrian’s solitary work, were responsible for the mental strain of 
my life at that time and in the end for the loss of a good twelve 
pounds’ weight. 

Kridwiss was an expert in the graphic arts and fine editions, 
collector of east-Asiatic coloured wood-carvings and ceramics, 
a field in which, invited by this or that cultural organization, he 
gave interesting and well-informed lectures in various cities of the 
Reich and even abroad. He was an ageless, rather dainty little 
gentleman, with a strong Rhenish-Hessian accent and uncommon 
intellectual liveliness. He seemed not to have connections of any 
opinion-forming kind so far as one could tell, but out of pure 
curiosity “listened in” at all the events of the day; and when this 
or that came to his ears he would describe it as “ scho ’ enorm 
' wischtich The reception-room of his house in Maxtiusstrasse, 
Schwabing, was decorated with charming Chinese paintings in 
India ink and colour (from the Sung period!) and he made it a 
meeting-place for the leading or rather the initiate members of 
the intellectual life of Munich, as many of them as the good city 
harboured in her walls. Kridwiss arranged informal discussion 
evenings for gentlemen, intimate round-table sittings of not more 
than eight or ten personalities; one put m an appearance at about 
nine o’clock and with no great entertainment on the part of the 



host proceeded to free association and the exchange of ideas Of 
course intellectual high tension was not unmtermittedly sus- 
tained; the talk often slipped into comfortable everyday chan- 
nels, since thanks to Kridwiss’s social tastes and obligations the 
level was rather uneven. For instance there took part in the ses- 
sions two members of the grand-ducal house of Hesse-Nassau, 
then studying m Munich, friendly young folk whom the host 
with a certain empressement called the beautiful princes. In their 
presence, if only because they were so much younger than the 
rest of us, we practised a certain reserve. I cannot say however 
that they disturbed us much. Often a more highbrow conversa- 
tion went painlessly over their heads, while they smiled in modest 
silence or made suitably serious faces. More annoying for me 
personally was the presence of Dr. Chaim Breisacher, the lover 
of paradox, already known to the reader. I long ago admitted 
that I could not endure the man; but his penetration and keen 
scent appeared to be indispensable on these occasions. I was also 
irritated by the presence of Bullmger, the manufacturer; he was 
legitimated only by his high income tax, but he talked dogmati- 
cally on the loftiest cultural themes. 

I must confess further that really I could feel no proper liking 
to any of the table-round, nor extend to any one of them a feel- 
ing of genuine confidence. Helmut Institoris was also a guest, and 
him I except, since I had friendly relations with him through his 
wife; yet even here the associations evoked were painful ones, 
though on other grounds.. But one might ask what I could have 
against Dr. Unruhe, Egon Unruhe, a philosophic palseozoologist 
who in his writings brilliantly combined a profound knowledge 
of geological periods and fossilization with the interpretation and 
scientific verification of our store of primitive sagas. In this the- 
ory, a sublimated Darwinism if you like, everything there became 
true and real, though a sophisticated humanity had long since 
ceased to believe it. Yes, whence my distrust of this learned and 
conscientiously intellectual man ? Whence the same distrust of 
Professor Georg Vogler, the literary historian, who had written 
a much esteemed history of German literature from the point of 
view of racial origins, wherein an author is discussed and evalu- 
ated not as writer and comprehensively trained mind, but as the 
genuine blood-and-soil product of his real, concrete, specific cor- 
ner of the Reich, engendering him and by him engendered. All 
that was very worthy, strong-minded, fit and proper, and criti- 
cally worth thinking about. The art-critic and Diirer scholar Pro- 
fessor Gilgen Holzschuher, another guest, was not acceptable to 



me either, on grounds similarly hard to justify; and the same was 
true without reservation of the poet Daniel zur Hohe who was 
often present He was a lean man of thirty in a black clericlike 
habit closed to the throat, with a profile like a bird of prey and a 
hammering delivery, as for instance: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, not so 
bad, oh certainly, one may say so'” nervously and continuously 
tappmg the floor the while with the balls of his feet. He loved to 
cross his arms on his chest or thrust one hand Napoleonlike in his 
coat, and his poet dreams dealt with a world subjected by san- 
guinary campaigns to the pure spirit, by it held in terror and high 
discipline, as he had described it in his work, I believe his only 
one, the Proclamations. It had appeared before the war, printed 
on hand-made paper, a lyrical and rhetorical outburst of riotous 
terrorism, to which one had to concede considerable verbal 
power. The signatory to these proclamations was an entity named 
Chnstus lmperator Maximus , a commanding energumen who lev- 
ied troops prepared to die for the subjection of the globe. He 
promulgated messages like Orders of the Day, stipulated aban- 
donedly ruthless conditions, proclaimed poverty and chastity, and 
could not do enough in the hammering, fist-pounding line to ex- 
act unquestioned and unlimited obedience “Soldiers!” the poem 
ended, “I deliver to you to plunder — tie World'” 

All this was “beautiful” and mightily acclaimed as such; “beau- 
tiful” in a cruelly and absolutely beauty-ous way, in the impu- 
dently detached, flippant, and irresponsible style poets permit 
themselves: it was, in fact, the tallest aesthetic misdemeanour I 
have ever come across Helmut Institoris, of course, was sympa- 
thetic; but indeed both author and work had enjoyed a measure 
of serious respect from the public, and my antipathy was not 
quite so sure of itself, because I was conscious of my general irri- 
tation with the whole Kridwiss circle and the pretensions of its 
cultural position, of which my intellectual conscience forced me 
to take account. 

I will try, in as small space as possible, to sketch the essential of 
these experiences, which our host rightly found “enormously im- 
portant” and which Daniel zur Hohe accompanied with his stere- 
otyped “Oh yes, yes, yes, not so bad, yes, certainly, one may say 
so,” even when it did not exactly go so far as the plundering of 
the world by the tough and dedicated soldiery of Chrisms lm~ 
perator Maximus. That was, of course, only symbolic poesy, 
whereas the interest of the conferences lay in surveys of socio- 
logical actualities, analyses of the present and the future, which 
even so had something in common with the ascetic and “beauti- 


fuT nightmares of Daniel’s fantasy. I have called attention above, 
quite apart from these evenings, to the disturbance and destruc- 
tion of apparently fixed values of life brought about by the war, 
especially in the conquered countries, which were thus m a psy- 
chological sense further on than the others. Very strongly felt 
and objectively confirmed was the enormous loss of value which 
the individual had sustained, the ruthlessness which made life to- 
day stride away over the single person and precipitate itself as a 
general indifference to the sufferings and destruction of human 
beings. This carelessness, this indifference to the individual fate, 
might appear to be the result of the four years’ carnival of blood 
just behind us, but appearances were deceptive. As in many an- 
other respect here too the war only completed, defined, and dras- 
tically put in practice a process that had been on the way long 
before and had made itself the basis of a new feeling about life. 
This was not a matter for praise or blame, rather of objective per- 
ception and statement However, the least passionate recognition 
of the actual, just out of sheer pleasure in recognition, always 
contains some shade of approbation; so why should one not ac- 
company such objective perceptions of the time with a many- 
sided, yes, all-embracing critique of the bourgeois tradition? By 
the bourgeois tradition I mean the values of culture, enlighten- 
ment, humanity, in short of such dreams as the uplifting of the 
people through scientific civilization. They who practised this 
critique were men of education, culture, science. They did it, in- 
deed, smiling; with a blitheness and intellectual complacency 
which lent the thing a special, pungent, disquieting, or even 
slightly perverse charm. It is probably superfluous to state that 
not for a moment did they recognize the form of government 
which we got as a result of defeat, the freedom that fell in our 
laps, in a word the democratic republic, as anything to be taken 
seriously as the legitimized frame of the new situation. With one 
accord they treated it as ephemeral, as meaningless from the start, 
yes, as a bad joke to be dismissed with a shrug. 

They cited de Tocqueville, who had said that out of revolu- 
tion as out of a common source two streams issued, the one lead- 
ing men to free arrangements, the other to absolute power. In the 
free arrangements none of the gentlemen conversationalists at 
Kridwiss’s any longer believed, since the very concept was self- 
contradictory; freedom by the act of assertion being driven to 
limit the freedom of its antagonist and thus to stultify itself and 
its own principles. Such was in fact its ultimate fate, though 
oftener the prepossession about “human rights” was thrown over- 



board at the start. And this was far more likely than that we 
would let ourselves in today for the dialectic process which turned 
freedom into the dictatorship of its party. In the end it all came 
down to dictatorship, to force, for with the demolition of the tra- 
ditional national and social forms through the French Revolution 
an epoch had dawned which, consciously or not, confessedly or 
not, steered its course toward despotic tyranny over the masses; 
and they, reduced to one uniform level, atomized, out of touch, 
were as powerless as the single individual. 

“Quite right, quite right. Oh, indeed yes, one may say so!” zur 
Hohe assured us, and pounded with his feet. Of course one may 
say so; only one might, for my taste, dealing with this descrip- 
tion of a mounting barbarism, have said so with rather more fear 
and trembling and rather less blithe satisfaction. One was left 
with the hope that the complacency of these gentlemen had to do 
with their recognition of the state of things and not with the state 
of things in itself. Let me set down as clearly as I can a picture of 
this distressing good humour of theirs. No one will be surprised 
that, m the conversations of this avant-garde of culture and cri- 
tique, a book which had appeared seven years before the war, 
“ Reflexions sur la violence” by Sorel, played an important part. 
The author’s relentless prognostication of war and anarchy, his 
characterization of Europe as the war-breeding soil, his theory 
that the peoples of our continent can unite only in the one idea, 
that of making war — all justified its public in calling it the book 
of the day. But even more trenchant and telling was its perception 
and statement of the fact that in this age of the masses parlia- 
mentary discussion must prove entirely inadequate for the shaping 
of political decisions, that in its stead the masses would have in 
the future to be provided with mythical fictions, devised like 
primitive battle-cries, to release and activate political energies. 
This was in fact the crass and inflaming prophecy of the book: 
that popular myths or rather those proper for the masses would 
become the vehicle of political action; fables, insane visions, chi- 
matras, which needed to have nothing to do with truth or reason 
or science in order to be creative, to determine the course of life 
and history, and thus to prove themselves dynamic realities. Not 
for nothing, of course, did the book bear its alarming tide; for 
it dealt with violence as the triumphant antithesis of truth- It 
made plain that the fate of truth was bound up with the fate of 
the individual, yes, identical with it: being for both truth and 
the individual a cheapening, a devaluation. It opened a mocking 
abyss between truth and power, truth and life, truth and the com- 



munity. It showed by implication that precedence belonged far 
more to the community, that truth had the community as its goal, 
and that whoever would share in the community must be pre- 
pared to scrap considerable elements of truth and science and line 
up for the sacnficmm tntellectus. 

And now imagine (here is the “clear picture” I promised to 
give) how these gentlemen, scientists themselves, scholars and 
teachers — Vogler, Unruhe, Holzschuher, Institoris, and Brei- 
sacher as well — revelled in a situation which for me had about it 
so much that was terrifying, and which they regarded as either 
already in full swing or inevitably on the way. They amused 
themselves by imagining a legal process in which one of these 
mass myths was up for discussion in the service of the political 
drive for the undermining of the bourgeois social order. Its pro- 
tagonists had to defend themselves against the charge of lying 
and falsification; but plaintiff and defendant did not so much at- 
tack each other as in the most laughable way miss each other’s 
points. The fantastic thing was the mighty apparatus of scien- 
tific witness which was invoked — quite futilely — to prove that 
humbug was humbug and a scandalous affront to truth. For the 
dynamic, historically creative fiction, the so-called lie and falsifi- 
cation, in other words the community-forming belief, was sim- 
ply inaccessible to this line of attack. Science strove, on the plane 
of decent, objective truth, to confute the dynamic lie; but argu- 
ments on that plane could only seem irrelevant to the champions 
of the dynamic, who merely smiled a superior smile. Science, 
truth — good God! The dramatic expositions of the group were 
possessed by the spirit and the accent of that ejaculation. They 
could scarcely contain their mirth at the desperate campaign 
waged by reason and criticism against wholly untouchable, 
wholly invulnerable belief. And with their united powers they 
knew how to set science in a light of such comic impotence that 
even the “beautiful princes,” in their childlike way, were bril- 
liantly entertained. The happy board did not hesitate to pre- 
scribe to justice, which had to say the last word and pronounce 
the judgment, the same self-abnegation which they themselves 
practised. A jurisprudence that wished to rest on popular feeling 
and not to isolate itself from the community could not venture to 
espouse the point of view of theoretic, anti-communal, so-called 
truth; it had to prove itself modern as well as patriotic, patriotic 
in the most modem sense, by respecting the fruitful falsztm, ac- 
quitting its apostles, and dismissing science with a flea in its ear. 

“Oh yes, yes, yes, certainly, one may say so” — thump, thump. 



Although I felt sick at my stomach, I would not play the spoil- 
sport, I showed no repugnance, but rather joined as well as I 
could in the general mirth; particularly since this did not neces- 
sarily mean agreement but only, at least provisionally, a smiling, 
gratified intellectual recognition of what was or was to be. I did 
once suggest that “if we wanted to be serious for a moment,” we 
might consider whether a thinking man, to whom the extremity 
of our situation lay very much at heart, would not perhaps do 
better to make truth and not the community his goal, since the 
latter would indirectly and in the long run be better served by 
truth, even the bitter truth, than by a train of thought which 
proposed to serve it at the expense of truth, but actually, by such 
denial, destroyed from within in the most unnatural way the basis 
of genuine community. Never in my life have I made a remark 
that fell more utterly and completely flat than this one. I admit 
that it was a tactless remark, unsuited to the prevailing intellectual 
climate, and permeated with an idealism or course well known, 
only too well known, well known to the point of being bad taste, 
and merely embarrassing to the new ideas. Much better was it for 
me to chime in with the others; to look at the new, to explore it, 
and instead of offering it futile and certainly boring opposition, to 
adapt my conceptions to the course of the discussion and in the 
frame of them to make myself a picture of the future and of a 
world even now, if unawares, in the throes of birth — and this no 
matter how I might be feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

It was an old-new world of revolutionary reaction, in which 
the values bound up with the idea of the individual — shall we say 
truth, freedom, law, reason? — were entirely rejected and shorn 
of power, or else had taken on a meaning quite different from that 
given them for centuries. Wrenched away from the washed-out 
theoretic, based on the relative and pumped full of fresh blood, 
they were referred to the far higher court of violence, authority, 
the dictatorship of belief — not, let me say, in a reactionary, anach- 
ronistic way as of yesterday or the day before, but so that it was 
like the most novel setting back of humanity into medievally 
theocratic conditions and situations. That was as little reactionary 
as though one were to describe as regression the track round a 
sphere, which of course leads back to where it started. There it 
was: progress and reaction, the old and the new, the past and the 
future became one; the political Right more and more coincided 
with the Left. That thought was free, that research worked with- 
out assumptions: these were conceptions which, far from rep- 
resenting progress, belonged to a superseded and uninteresting 



world. Freedom was given to thought that it might justify force; 
just as seven hundred years ago reason had been free to discuss 
faith and demonstrate dogma; for that she was there, and for that 
today thinking was there, or would be there tomorrow. Research 
certainly had assumptions — of course it had 5 They were force, 
the authority of the community; and indeed they were so taken 
for granted as such that science never came upon the thought that 
perhaps it was not free. Subjectively, indeed, it was free, entirely 
so, within an objective restraint so native and incorporate that it 
was in no way felt as a fetter. To make oneself clear as to what 
was coming and to get rid of the silly fear of it one need only 
remind oneself that the absoluteness of definite premises and sac- 
rosanct conditions had never been a hindrance to fancy and indi- 
vidual boldness of thought. On the contrary: precisely because 
from the very first mediaeval man had received a closed intellec- 
tual frame from the Church as something absolute and taken for 
granted, he had been far more imaginative than the burgher of 
the individualist age; he had been able to surrender himself far 
more freely and sure-footedly to his personal fantasy. 

Oh, yes, force created a firm ground under the feet; it was anti- 
abstract, and I did very well to conceive to myself, working to- 
gether with Kridwiss’s friends, how the old-new would in this and 
that field systematically transform life. The pedagogue, for in- 
stance, knew that in elementary instruction even today the tend- 
ency was to depart from the primary learning of letters and 
sounds and to 'adopt the method of word-learning; to link writ- 
ing with concrete looking at things. This meant in a way a de- 
parture from the abstract universal letter-script, not bound up 
with speech, in a way a return to the word-writing of earlier peo- 
ples. I thought privately: why words anyhow, why writing, why 
speech? Radical objectivity must stick to things and to them only. 
And I recalled a satire of Swift’s in which some learned scholars 
with reform gone to their heads decided, in order to save their 
lungs and avoid empty phrases, to do away altogether with words 
and speech and to converse by pointing to the things themselves, 
which in the interest of understanding were to be carried about on 
the back in as large numbers as possible. It is a very witty piece of 
writing: for the women, the masses, and the analphabetic, they it is 
who rebel against the innovation and insist on talking in words. 
Well, my interlocutors did not go so far with their proposals as 
Swift’s scholars. They wore the air of disinterested observers, and 
as a enorm wischtisch ” they fixed their eyes on the general readi- 
ness, already far advanced, to drop out of hand our so-called cul- 

CHAPTER XXXIV (conclusion) 

It will perhaps be granted that a man labouring to digest such 
novelties as these might lose twelve pounds’ weight. Certainly I 
should not have lost them if I had not taken seriously my experi- 
ences at the Kndwiss sessions, but had stood firm in the convic- 
tion that these gentlemen were talking nonsense. However, that 
was not in the least the way I felt. I did not for a moment con- 
ceal from myself that with an acuity worthy of note they had 
laid their fingers on the pulse of the time and were prognosticat- 
ing accordingly. But I must repeat that I should have been so end- 
lessly grateful, and perhaps should have lost only six pounds in- 
stead of twelve, if they themselves had been more alarmed over 
their findings or had opposed to them a little ethical criticism. 
They might have said- Unhappily it looks as though things would 
follow this and this course. Consequently one must take steps to 
warn people of what is coming and do one’s best to prevent it. 
But what in a way they were saying was: It is coming, it is com- 
ing, and when it is here it will find us on the crest of the moment. 
It is interesting, it is even good, simply by virtue of being what 
is inevitably going to be, and to recognize it is sufficient of an 
achievement and satisfaction. It is not our affair to go on to do 
anything against it. — Thus these learned gentlemen, in private. 
But that about the satisfaction of recognizing it was a fraud. They 
sympathized with what they recognized; without this sympathy 
they could not have recognized it. That was the whole point, and 
because of it, in my irritation and nervous excitement, I lost 

No, all that is not quite right. Merely through my conscien- 
tious visits to the Kridwiss group and the ideas to which I delib- 
erately exposed myself, I should not have got thinner by twelve 
pounds or even half as much. I should never have taken all that 
speechifying to heart if it had not constituted a cold-blooded in- 
tellectual commentary upon a fervid experience of art and friend- 
ship: I mean the birth of a work of art very near to me, near 
through its creator, not through itself, that I may not say, for too 



much belonged to it that was alien and frightful to my mind. In 
that all too homelike rural retreat there was being built up with 
feverish speed a v ork which had a peculiar kinship with, was in 
spirit a parallel to, the things I had heard at Kridwiss’s table- 

At that table had been set up as the order of the day a critique 
of tradition which was the result of the destruction of living 
values long regarded as inviolable. The comment had been ex- 
plicitly made — I do not recall by whom, Breisacher, Unruhe, 
Holzschuher? — that such criticism must of necessity turn against 
traditional art-forms and species, for instance against the aesthetic 
theatre, which had lam within the bourgeois circle of life and was 
a concern of culture. Yes. And right there before my very eyes 
was taking place the passing of the dramatic form into the epic, 
the music drama was changing to oratorio, the operatic drama to 
operatic cantata — and indeed in a spirit, a fundamental state of 
mind, which agreed very precisely with the derogatory judg- 
ments of my fellow-talkers in the Martiusstrasse about the posi- 
tion of the individual and all individualism in the world. It was, 
I will say, a state of mind which, no longer interested in the 
psychological, pressed for the objective, for a language that ex- 
pressed the absolute, the binding and compulsory, and in conse- 
quence by choice laid on itself the pious fetters of pre-classically 
strict form. How often in my strained observation of Adrian’s ac- 
tivity I was forced to remember the early impressions we boys 
had got from that voluble stutterer, his teacher, with his antithe- 
sis of “harmonic subjectivity” and “polyphonic objectivity”' The 
track round the sphere, of which there had been talk in those tor- 
turingly clever conversations at Kridwiss’s, this track, on which 
regress and progress, the old and the new, past and future, be- 
came one — I saw it all realized here, in a regression full of mod- 
em novelty, going back beyond Bach’s and Handel’s harmonic 
art to the remoter past of true polyphony. 

I have preserved a letter which Aarian sent to me at that time 
to Freising from Pfeiffering, where he was at work on the hymn 
of “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, 
and kindreds, and people, and tongues, standing before the throne 
and before the Lamb” (see Diirer’s seventh sheet). The letter 
asked me to visit him, and it was signed Perotinus Magnus, a sug- 
gestive joke and playful identification full of self-mockery, for 
this Perotinus was in charge of church music at Notre Dame in 
the twelfth century, a composer whose directions contributed to 
the development of the young art of polyphony. The jesting sig- 



nature vividly reminded me of a similar one of Richard Wagner, 
who at the time of Parsifal added to his name signed to a letter 
the title “Member of the High Consistory.” For a man who is not 
an artist the question is intriguing: how serious is the artist m 
what ought to be, and seems, his most pressing and earnest con- 
cern; how seriously does he take himself in it, and how much 
tired disillusionment, affectation, flippant sense of the ridiculous 
is at work? If the query were unjustified, how then could that 
great master of the musical theatre, at work on this his most con- 
secrated task, have mocked himself with such a title* I felt much 
the same at sight of Adrian’s signature. Yes, my questioning, my 
concern and anxiety went further and in the silence of my heart 
dealt with the legitimacy of his activity, his claim in time to the 
sphere into which he had plunged, the re-creation of which he 
pursued at all costs and with the most developed means. In short, 
I was consumed with loving and anxious suspicion of an aestheti- 
cism which my friend’s saying: “the antithesis of bourgeois cul- 
ture is not barbarism, but collectivism,” abandoned to the most 
tormenting doubts. 

Here no one can follow me who has not as I have experienced 
in his very soul how near aestheticism and barbarism are to each 
other: aestheticism as the herald of barbarism. I experienced this 
distress certainly not for myself but m the light of my friend- 
ship for a beloved and empenlled artist soul. The revival of ritual 
music from a profane epoch has its dangers. It served indeed the 
ends of the Church, did it not* But before that it had served less 
civilized ones, the ends of the medicine-man, magic ends. That 
was in times when all celestial affairs were in the hands of the 
priest-medicine-man, the priest-wizard. Can it be denied that this 
was a pre-cultural, a barbaric condition of cult-art, and is it com- 
prehensible or not that the late and cultural revival of the cult in 
art, which aims by atomization to arrive at collectivism, seizes 
upon means that belong to a stage of civilization not only priestly 
but primitive* The enormous difficulties which every rehearsal 
and performance of Leverkuhn’s Apocalypse presents, have di- 
rectly to do with all that. You have there ensembles which begin 
as “speaking” choruses and only by stages, by the way of the most 
extraordinary transitions, turn into the richest vocal music; then 
choruses which pass through all the stages from graded whisper- 
ings, antiphonal speech, and humming up to the most polyphonic 
song — accompanied by sounds which begin as mere noise, like 
tom-toms and thundering gongs, savage, fanatical, ritual, and end 
by arriving at the purest music. How often has this intimidating 



work, m its urge to reveal in the language of music the most hid- 
den things, the beast in man as well as his sublimest stirrings, in- 
curred the reproach both of blood-boltered barbarism and of 
bloodless intellectuality 1 I say incurred, for its idea, m a way, is 
to take in the life-history of music, from its pre-musical, magic, 
rhythmical, elementary stage to its most complex consummation; 
and thus it does perhaps expose itself to such reproaches not only 
in part but as a whole. 

Let me give an illustration that has always been the target of 
scorn and hatred, and hence the special object of my painful hu- 
man feeling. But first I must go back a little. We all know that it 
was the earliest concern, the first conquest of the musician to rid 
sound of its raw and primitive features, to fix to one single note 
the singing which in primeval times must have been a howling 
glissando over several notes, and to win from chaos a musical 
system. Certainly and of course: ordering and normalizing the 
notes was the condition and first self-manifestation of what we 
understand by music. Stuck there, so to speak, a naturalistic ata- 
vism, a barbaric rudiment from pre-musical days, is the gliding 
voice, the glissando, a device to be used with the greatest restraint 
on profoundly cultural grounds; I have always been inclined to 
sense in it an anti-cultural, anti-human appeal. What I have m 
mind is Leverkuhn’s preference for the glissando. Of course 
“preference” is not the right word, I only mean that at least in 
this work, the Apocalypse , he makes exceptionally frequent use 
of it, and certainly these images of terror offer a most tempting 
and at the same time most legitimate occasion for the employ- 
ment of that savage device. In the place where the four voices of 
the altar order the letting loose of the four avenging angels, who 
mow down rider and steed, Emperor and Pope, and a third of 
mankind, how terrifying is the effect of the trombone glissandos 
which here represent the theme! This destructive sliding through 
the seven positions of the instrument! The theme represented by 
howling — what horror! And what acoustic panic results from the 
repeated drum-glissandos, an effect made possible on the chro- 
matic or machine drum by changing the tuning to various pitches 
during the drum-roll. The effect is extremely uncanny. But most 
shattering of all is the application of the glissando to the human 
voice, which after all was the first target in organizing the tonic 
material and ridding song of its primitive howling over several 
notes: the return, in short, to this primitive stage, as the chorus 
of the Apocalypse does it in the form of frightfully shrieking hu- 
man voices at die opening of the seventh seal, when the sun be- 



came black and the moon became as blood and the ships are 

I may be allowed here to say a word on the treatment of the 
chorus in my friend’s work: this never before attempted break- 
mg-up of the choral voices into groups both interweaving with 
and singing against each other, into a sort of dramatic dialogue 
and into single cries which, to be sure, have their distant classic 
model in the crashing answer “Barrabam'” of the St. Matthew 
Passion. The Apocalypse has no orchestral interludes; but instead 
the chorus more than once achieves a marked and astonishing or- 
chestral effect- thus in the choral variations which represent the 
paean of the hundred and forty-four thousand redeemed, filling 
the heavens with their voices, here the four choral parts simply 
sing in the same rhythm, wlule the orchestra adds to and sets 
against them the richest, most varied and contrasting ones. The 
extremely harsh clashes produced by the part- writing in this piece 
(and not here alone) have offered much occasion for spiteful 
jeers. But so it is. so must one accept it; and I at least do so, con- 
senting if amazed. The whole work is dominated by the paradox 
(if it is a paradox) that m it dissonance stands for the expression 
of everything lofty, solemn, pious, everything of the spirit; while 
consonance and firm tonality are reserved for the world of hell, 
in this context a world of banality and commonplace. 

But I wanted to say something else: I wanted to point out the 
singular interchange which often takes place between the voices 
and the orchestra. Chorus and orchestra are here not clearly sepa- 
rated from each other as symbols of the human and the material 
world; they merge into each other, the chorus is “instrumental- 
ized,” the orchestra as it were “vocalized,” to that degree and to 
that end that the boundary between man and thing seems shifted: 
an advantage, surely, to artistic unity, yet— at least for my feel- 
ing— there is about it something oppressive, dangerous, malig- 
nant. A few details: the part of the “Whore of Babylon, the 
Woman on the Beast, with whom the kings of the earth have 
committed fornication,” is, surprisingly enough, a most graceful 
coloratura of great virtuosity; its brilliant runs blend at times with 
the orchestra exactly like a flute. On the other hand, the muted 
trumpet suggests a grotesque vox humana, as does also the saxo- 
phone, which plays a conspicuous part in several of the small 
chamber orchestras which accompany the singing of the devils, 
the shameful round of song by the sons of the Pit. Adrian’s ca- 
pacity for mocking imitation, which was rooted deep in the mel- 
ancholy of his being, became creative here in the parody of the 



different musical styles m which the insipid wantcnness of hell 
indulges French impressionism is burlesqued, along with bour- 
geois drawmg-room music, Tchaikovsky, music-hall, the synco- 
pations and rhythmic somersaults of jazz — like a tilting-ring it 
goes round and round, gaily glittering, above the fundamental ut- 
terance of the mam orchestra, which, grave, sombre, and complex, 
asserts with radical seventy the intellectual level of the work as 
a whole 

Forward 1 I have still so much on my heart about this scarcely 
opened testament of my friend, it seems to me I shall do best to 
go on, stating my opinions in the light of that reproach whose 
plausibility I admit though I would bite my tongue out sooner 
than recognize its justice, the reproach of barbarism. It has been 
levelled at the characteristic feature of the work, its combination 
of very new and very old, but surely this is by no means an arbi- 
trary combination, rather it lies in the nature of things- it rests, 
I might say, on the curvature of the world, which makes the last 
return unto the first. Thus the elder art did not know rhythm as 
music later understood it. Song was set according to the metrical 
laws of speech, it did not run articulated by bars and musical pe- 
riods, rather it obeyed the spirit of free recitation. And how is it 
with the rhythm of our, the latest, music? Has it too not moved 
nearer to a verbal accent ? Has it not been relaxed by an excessive 
flexibility* In Beethoven there are already movements of a rhyth- 
mic freedom foreshadowing things to come — a freedom which in 
Leverkuhn is complete but for his bar-lines, which, as an ironi- 
cally conservative conventional feature, he still retained. But with- 
out regard to symmetry, and fitted exclusively to the verbal ac- 
cent, the rhythm actually changes from bar to bar. I spoke of 
impressions. There are impressions which, unimportant as they 
seem to the reason, work on in the subconscious mind and there 
exercise a decisive influence. So it was now: the figure of that 
queer fish across the ocean and his arbitrary, ingenuous musical 
activity, of whom another queer fish, Adrian’s teacher, had told 
us in our youth, and about whom my companion expressed him- 
self with such spirited approval as we walked home that night: 
the figure and the history of Johann Conrad Beissel was such an 
impression. Why should I behave as though I had not already* 
long ago and repeatedly thought of that strict schoolmaster and 
beginner in the art of song, at Ephrata across the sea? A whole 
world lies between his naive unabashed theory and the work of 
Leverkuhn, pushed to the very limits of musical erudition, tech- 
nique, intellectuality. And yet for me, the understanding friend* 


the spirit of the inventor of the “master” and “servant” notes and 
of musical hymn-recitation moves ghostlike in it. 

Do I, with these personal interpolations, contribute anything 
which will explain that reproach which hurts me so, which I seek 
to interpret without making the smallest concession to it. the re- 
proach of barbarism 5 It has probably more to do with a certain 
touch, like an icy finger, of mass-modernity in this work of reli- 
gious vision, which knows the theological almost exclusively as 
judgment and terror: a touch of “streamline,” to venture the in- 
sulting word. Take the testis , the witness and narrator of the hor- 
rid happenings: the “I, Johannes,” the describer of the beasts of 
the abyss, with the heads of lions, calves, men, and eagles— this 
part, by tradition assigned to a tenor, is here given to a tenor in- 
deed but one of almost castrato-hke high register, whose chilly 
crow, objective, reporterlike, stands in terrifying contrast to the 
content of his catastrophic announcements. When in 1926 at the 
festival of the International Society for New Music at Frankfurt 
the Apocalypse had its first and so far its last performance (un- 
der Klemperer) this extremely difficult part was taken and sung 
in masterly fashion by a tenor with the voice of a eunuch, named 
Erbe, whose piercing communications did actually sound like 
“Latest News of World Destruction.” That was altogether in the 
spirit of the work, the singer had with the greatest intelligence 
grasped the idea. — Or take as another example of easy technical 
facility in horror, the effect of being at home in it: I mean the 
loud-speaker effects (in an oratorio! ) which the composer has in- 
dicated in various places and which achieve an otherwise never 
realized gradation in the volume and distance of the musical 
sound: of such a kind that by means of the loud-speaker some 
parts are brought into prominence, while others recede as distant 
choruses and orchestras. Again think of the jazz — certainly very 
incidental — used to suggest the purely infernal element one will 
bear with me for making bitter application of the expression 
“streamlined” for a work which, judged by its intellectual and 
psychological basic mood, has more to do with Kaisersaschem 
th a n with modem slickness and which I am fain to characterize 
as a dynamic archaism. 

Soullessness! I well know this is at bottom what they mean who 
apply the word “barbaric” to Adrian’s creation. Have they ever, 
even if only with the reading eye, heard certain lyrical parts — or 
may I only say moments? — of the Apocalypse: song passages ac- 
companied by a chamber orchestra, which could bring tears to 
the eyes erf a man more callous than I am, since they are like 



a fervid prayer for a soul. I shall be forgiven for an argument 
more or less into the blue, but to call soullessness the yearning for 
a soul — the yearning of the little sea-maid — that is what I would 
characterize as barbarism, as inhumanity! 

I write it down in a mood of self-defence; and another emotion 
seizes me: the memory of that pandemonium of laughter, of hell- 
ish merriment which, brief but horrible, forms the end of the first 
part of the Apocalypse . I hate, love, and fear it; for — may I be 
pardoned for this all too personal excuse^ — I have always feared 
Adrian’s proneness to laughter, never been able, like Rudiger 
Schildknapp, to play a good second to it; and the same fear, the 
same shrinking and misgiving awkwardness I feel at this gehen- 
nan gaudium, sweeping through fifty bars, beginning with the 
chuckle of a single voice and rapidly gaining ground, embracing 
choir and orchestra, frightfully swelling in rhythmic upheavals 
and contrary motions to a fortissimo tutti, an overwhelming, sar- 
donically yelling, screeching, bawling, bleating, howling, piping, 
whinnying salvo, the moclang, exulting laughter of the Pit. So 
much do I shudder at this episode in and for itself, and the way 
it stands out by reason of its position in the whole, this hurricane 
of hellish merriment, that I could hardly have brought myself to 
speak of it if it were not that here, precisely here, is revealed to 
me, in a way to make my heart stop beating, the profoundest 
mystery of this music, which is a mystery of identity. 

For this hellish laughter at the end of the first part has its pend- 
ant in the truly extraordinary chorus of children which, accom- 
panied by a chamber orchestra, opens the second part: a piece of 
cosmic music of the spheres, icily clear, glassily transparent, of 
brittle dissonances indeed, but withal of an — I would like to say 
— inaccessibly unearthly and alien beauty of sound, filling the 
heart with longing without hope. And this piece, which has won, 
touched, and ravished even the reluctant, is in its musical essence, 
for him who has ears to hear and eyes to see, the devil’s laughter 
all over again. Everywhere is Adrian Leverkuhn great in making 
■unlike the like. One knows his way of modifying rhythmically a 
fugal subject already in its first answer, in such a way that despite 
a strict preservation of its thematic essence it is as repetition no 
longer recognizable. So here — but nowhere else as here is the ef- 
fect so profound, mysterious and great. Every word that turns 
into sound the idea of Beyond, of transformation in the mystical 
sense, and thus of change, transformation, transfiguration, is here 
exactly reproduced. The passages of horror just before heard are 
given, indeed, to the indescribable children’s chorus at quite a dif- 



ferent pitch, and in changed orchestration and rhythms; but in 
the searing, susurrant tones of spheres and angels there is not one 
note which does not occur, with rigid correspondence, in the 
hellish laughter. w 4 

That is Adrian Leverkuhn. Utterly. That is the music he repre- 
sents; and that correspondence is its profound significance, calcu- 
lation raised to mystery. Thus love with painful discrimination 
has taught me to see this music, though in accordance with my 
own simple nature I would perhaps have been glad to see it 


The new numeral stands at the head of a chapter that will report 
a death, a human catastrophe in the circle round my friend. And 
yet, my God, what chapter, what sentence, what word that I 
have written has not been pervaded by the catastrophic, when 
that has become the air we breathe! What word did not shake, as 
only too often the hand that wrote it, with the vibrations not alone 
of the catastrophe towards which my story strives but simulta- 
neously of that cataclysm in whose sign the world — at least the 
bourgeois, the human world — stands today? 

Here we shall be dealing with a private, human disaster, scarcely 
noted by the public. To it many factors contributed: masculine 
rascality, feminine frailty, feminine pride and professional unsuc- 
cess. It is twenty-two years since, almost before my eyes, Clarissa 
Rodde the actress, sister of the just as obviously doomed Inez, 
went to her death: at the end of the winter season of 192 1-2, in 
the month of May, at Pfeiffering in her mother’s house and with 
scant consideration for that mother’s feelings, with rash and reso- 
lute hand she took her life, using the poison that she had long 
kept in readiness for the moment when her pride could no longer 
endure to live. 

I will relate in few words the events which led to the frightful 
deed, so shattering to us all though at bottom we could hardly 
condemn it, together with the circumstances under which it was 
committed. I have already mentioned that her Munich teacher’s 
warnings had proved all too well founded: Clarissa’s artistic career 
had not in the course of years risen from lowly provincial begin- 
nings to more respectable and dignified heights. From Elbing in 
East Prussia she went to Pforzheim in Baden —in other words she 
advanced not at all or very little, the larger theatres of the Reich 
gave her not a thought. She was a failure or at least lacking any 
genuine success, for the simple reason, so hard for the person con- 
cerned to grasp, that her natural talent was not equal to her am- 
bition. No genuine theatre blood gave body to her knowledge or 
her hopes or won for her the minds and hearts of the contrarious 



public. She lacked the primitive basis, that which in all art is the 
decisive thing but most